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Taking a Shine to TJ

Kristie Smeltzer

As the winter cold settles in, we have opened this year, in part of our Mountaintop Shop, a comfort station with some interesting items for visitors to interact with and explore.  In their hunt for additional items to populate that space, the managers responsible decided that this reproduction (above) of the Houdon Bust of Thomas Jefferson be placed up in the comfort station area. 

This repro of the famed TJ bust has been living in an office up until now, and sadly he’d picked up a bit of dirt as time passed.  So before putting him out for visitors to enjoy, we wondered if we should shine him up a bit. 

My background isn’t in museums, so I started asking questions about what this version is made of and what we thought might be good to clean it.  In the end, old fashioned elbow grease was our answer. 

The application of said elbow grease (pictured, below) was so intense that the photo is blurred by my extremely swift scrubbing.  It’s moments such as these that I wonder, “How will I ever accurately capture this aspect of my work on a résumé?” 

Then I asked myself, “What would Jefferson do?”  So I looked for a good Jefferson quote, to at least know what Mr. Jefferson might say.  And I found this quote from Thomas Jefferson to his daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph on our website under Jefferson quotes about idleness: 1790 April 26. “Interesting occupations are essential to happiness: indeed the whole art of being happy consists in the art of finding emploiment [sic]. I know none so interesting, and which croud [sic] upon us so much, as those of a domestic nature."

Ah, well, this task of a domestic nature definitely added some happiness to my day. 

“Okay, Mr. Jefferson, now blow!”

Legacy NID: 


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