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What to Do with Inherited Collections: Preserving Las Vegas
Scott M. Haskins -- Art Conservation-Restoration, Pets and Heirlooms, Art Damage Scott M. Haskins -- Art Conservation-Restoration, Pets and Heirlooms, Art Damage
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Santa Barbara, CA
Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Inheriting a collection of photos, papers, books, and letters following the passing of a relative can pose both sentimental and logistical challenges. The question arises: What to do with inherited collections that may seem overwhelming due to space constraints, lack of personal interest, or inexperience in managing collections? At Fine Art Conservation Laboratories, we understand the delicate nature of such situations and offer solutions for preserving and valuing these cherished legacies, keeping the desert landscape of Las Vegas in mind.

blonde woman leans over a glass case in a museum

This woman marvels at the beautiful archive now in her possession. The question remains: What to do with inherited collections?

An inherited collection often forms an archive, a unique assortment of documents, photos, and three-dimensional objects, such as artworks, digital files, and manuscripts selected to preserve the essence of a person’s life. Our team specializes in the careful assessment and restoration of these diverse items, recognizing their collective power in narrating a captivating life history. We can advise what to do with inherited collections in terms of preservation, restoration, and storage. Although dry conditions are ideal for archival storage, the desert heat, dust, and pests are something to consider when handling collections. As you navigate the task of sorting through the archive, we emphasize the importance of maintaining the collection’s integrity, ensuring it tells a coherent and valuable story.

Books within the inherited collection hold particular significance. If they align with the individual’s work or training, they contribute to the archive’s richness. We encourage clients to preserve the archive as a cohesive unit, whether they choose to keep, sell, or donate it. Another significant part of any collection is artwork. They convey the collector’s interests and even perspective of the world. Their value isn’t only sentimental; much artwork, especially if it’s old, has significant monetary value. It is important to consult an art conservation professional to ensure the proper storage and restoration treatments that each piece needs. Provenance, the history of ownership, plays a pivotal role in retaining the archive’s value, be it evidential or monetary. By keeping records together, the unique perspective of one person’s life events is preserved, adding depth and authenticity to the entire collection.

A portrait of George Washington, painted around 1800

Heirloom portraits, such as this one of George Washington, can be quite valuable.

While some may lament the decline of letter writing, we appreciate the intrinsic value of authentic signatures and the stories they tell. Recent auctions have demonstrated a growing market for entire archives, underscoring the enduring allure of tangible, historical artifacts.

As you grapple with the identity embedded in the archive, we encourage thoughtful consideration of its entirety before deciding what to do with inherited collections. Rather than dissecting and selling individual components, or worse, discarding the archive, consider the option of donation. Fine Art Conservation Laboratories can guide you in preserving the structural and value-based integrity of the collection, and even potential donation avenues, including national archives, universities, community organizations, galleries, museums, and local institutions. Preserving your family member’s legacy becomes a meaningful endeavor, and our expertise ensures that the inherited collection remains a cohesive and valued representation of their life story.

an older, well-dressed white man with gloves on using a microscope to analyze a painting

Head Conservator, Scott M. Haskins analyzing the condition of the painting on the table

Are you also having trouble navigating an insurance claim that comes along with this inheritance? Fine Art Conservation Laboratories can help.

Fine Art Conservation Laboratories’ 45 years of expertise in preserving and restoring art offers invaluable help and practical knowledge for helping people through the insurance claim process for damaged collectibles and art pieces. Our experienced team understands the complexities of insurance claims related to art, heirlooms, and antiques, providing reports that are properly prepared with information that the insurance company never puts in doubt. Fine Art Conservation Laboratories charges flat fees for this work, not a percentage of the claim settlement, and our expertise is honored nationwide. Let us help make the art, heirloom, and collectible part of the insurance claim process as seamless as possible and preserve your peace of mind. 

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News Media Interview Contact
Name: Scott M. Haskins
Title: Author, Art Conservation/Restoration, Pets and Heirlooms, Art Damage, Expert Witness
Group: www.fineartconservationlab.com
Dateline: Santa Barbara, CA United States
Direct Phone: 805-564-3438
Cell Phone: 805 570 4140
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