Campus Currents

UNH Museum Makes a Wish

1941 Poster for UNH Winter Carnival
This 1941 UNH poster was found in London: it celebrates both UNH's 75th anniversary and the annual winter carnival. Note how the stalwart skier is ascending the mountain. Courtesy of J. Peter Karlsen '79

In case you haven't heard: Ski posters are hot. Collectors are bidding on them at auctions these days, paying up to several thousand dollars for their bold, stylized designs. So when a former New Hampshire Outing Club member contacted the university with a tip that a 1941 UNH Winter Carnival poster featuring a skier clad in blue was coming up for sale on Christie's online auction house, e-mails flew.

The UNH Museum and Archives rarely buys items for their collections, relying instead on donations, but for a scarce souvenir like the poster, staff members decided to allocate a maximum of $1,000 in an attempt to purchase it. Tracey Lauder, the library's office manager, registered with Christie's, faxed in the offer, and waited. Twenty-four hours later, staff members let out a collective sigh of disappointment when the winning bid was posted on the Christie's Web site: $1,334.

While the poster would have been a wonderful addition, Claudia Morner, university librarian, is philosophical about the experience. "I want to praise the alums who brought the poster to our attention," she says. "The event highlights the fact that we are a repository for university history, and that is important."

Perhaps surprisingly, the most pressing needs of the UNH Museum are not items from the college's late 1800s era but artifacts from the 1940s on. "We have almost nothing from this later period," says Dale Valena, museum curator. "I think people just haven't gotten used to the idea that their stuff is historical."

She ticks off some of her favorite items that the museum does own: a nose guard worn by football players in the college's early years, dance cards from the 1930s, a cadet uniform from 1900 and a set of bog shoes. What she's after, Valena explains, are things that reflect student life.

The museum's wish list also includes memorabilia from student organizations, flyers and posters (which typically get thrown away after the event), clothing with the UNH insignia, recordings of UNH music, and athletic equipment and uniforms. "We have no football pads or helmets, almost no hockey stuff," she says.

But there are a few things the museum and archives folks would be happy to have you leave in your attic. Says Mylinda Woodward '97, assistant archivist who works with Valena, "No more coffee mugs, please!" ~

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