Collections Carousel – “Ode to Collections”, 1997

Art at Work! Art Warner, MCHS Board President. Photo taken 1999.
Art at Work! Art Warner, MCHS Board President. Photo taken 1999.

Our intrepid board president, A. Arthur Warner, Jr., is a man of many talents. Along with the various hats he has worn at the museum – garbage hauler, sewer locator, spreadsheet man, financial guru, shredder expert, building infrastructure encyclopedia, chocolate contributor – he is also an accomplished poet and has written about museums and the importance of history. Below is a poem about the value of museum collections, “Ode to Collections.” The poem was first published in The Morrison County Historical Newsletter in the Spring of 1997 (MCHS 1997 Spring Newsletter Vol. 10 No. 2).

“Ode to Collections” 

In the darkened depths of storage,

Placed on shelves up off the floor,

Sit the pieces of our history,

Saved for now, but saved “what for?”


For the children of the future,

To tell them what was here before,

Saved for them, and those who follow,

Saved for all-time, that’s “what for!”


Saved for all so we can study

Family life and history,

So we can pass the old traditions,

To guide our children’s destiny.


Pictures, paper, cuffs, and collars,

Pails and chairs and tools and more,

Documents to please the scholars,

That’s what’s saved and kept in store.


Pictures show what used to be,

Tools show how the work was done,

Papers help to tell the story,

Of the struggles either lost or won.


Stories of the days before us,

There to guide our paths for years,

Tell us of the joys and sorrows,

All the hopes, and plans, and fears.


Mass migration, people moving,

Starting homes and clearing land,

Cutting timber, working new jobs,

Building lives, and dreams so grand.


Start the schools to teach the children,

Lead them on their life-long way,

Erect a place to go and worship,

And bury those who passed away.


People saved all this, our history,

Items which now need our care,

Is there a way that we could help?

Is there some way to that we could share?


Build displays to tell the stories,

Show the things that used to be,

Tell how people came to this land.

And left these things for you and me.


Take old papers, threat them gently,

Make the acid go away.

Now they’ll last for nearly always,

Saved to teach another day.


Check the heat and moisture daily,

Not too low and not too high,

On the watch for mice and insects,

Can’t let even one get by.


Clean the dirt from precious items,

Make those old tools last for years,

Think about the hands that used them,

Think about the sweat and tears.


There are those who work to save

All this, the fabric of our past,

Is there a way that we could help them

In their quest to make it last?


The work to save our family’s lifetime,

Tasks are many, hands are few,

Time or talents, gifts or dollars,

These are things which we could do.


So, come enjoy the prized collections,

Read the stories from the past,

You are making history now, Dear Reader,

Do it right, it’s going to last.

by Art Warner, MCHS President (MCHS 1997 Spring Newsletter, Vol. 10 No. 2)

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