Things have been quiet around The Family Curator lately, but not because there’s nothing to write about. My idea notebook is filling up, but time for writing has been severely limited by a new/old project and a looming deadline. It seems the time has come to clear out the in-laws’ home.
This is a task that many of us will face in our lifetime, sometimes more than once. It can be emotional, exhausting, or just another thing to do, but it must be done. And one of the biggest challenges in clearing out anyone’s home is deciding What to save? What to toss?
We are now going on Year Six since my mother-in-law passed away. It’s time. So, for the last several weeks, Mr. Curator and I have spent many hours each day sorting and sifting through the remnants of 54 years of living in one house.
Today’s Lesson from the Archive is one I read somewhere, and it’s making more sense to me every day:
What’s the difference between clutter and a collection?
In a word, it’s all about curating.
A collector brings together things with some pattern of meaning and usually assembles the collection for display, for competition, or for personal enjoyment. If the stuff just sits around in boxes, closets, and drawers it can easily become clutter. This definition rings pretty true with me.
My mother-in-law was an Army wife who lived in the Far East, Hawaii, and Europe before settling down in Pasadena. She loved buying local art, books, and decor. She had a great collection that she displayed and enjoyed. On the other hand, she also accumulated a considerable amount of clutter, stuff that filled the closets and drawers with random things that are “interesting” but What the heck do you do with 15 miniature cannon keychains??? and How many carved shells does a person need? That can’t be a collection, can it?
She saved every camera she ever owned, including the projection equipment to enjoy it. If we assemble them all in a glass cabinet we have a collection of vintage photographic gear. If we throw it in a box and keep it because it’s “cool,” we’re saving clutter.
Today, after a marathon session I am ready to make some serious decisions. Now, if I could just convince Mr. Curator that we don’t need six vintage wooden clothes brushes, even if it is a collection!