Description of THS Collections:
THS first began collecting in 1958 to fill the Kellum-Noble house with furnishings from the 1850s. Some of the items had Houston provenance or history, but some were simply common 19th century furnishings. As THS added more historic buildings to the park and built a museum gallery, our collections grew as well. Like other museums that have been collecting for many decades, we have had to refine our collecting strategy more recently. Our emphasis is truly on collecting artifacts and archives that provide unique insight into the lives of Houstonians. Our goal is to utilize the collection to “tell Houston’s stories.” Although we firmly believe in preserving Houston’s history, we also recognize that we don’t have to do it alone. There are now many repositories of the city’s history and we actively work with and support those institutions.
What Types of Objects and Archives Does THS Have in its Collection?
FURNITURE: 19th and early 20th century pieces including beds, wardrobes, sofas, washstands, immigrant trunks, chairs, tables, etc. Many of the pieces were hand-made in Texas while other strengths in this grouping include family heirlooms donated by descendants of the owners of the historic buildings at THS.
HOUSEHOLD ARTICLES & TEXTILES: This collection encompasses a range of items that would have been used in a 19th or 20th century home such as glassware, lamps, quilts, irons, kitchen/food service and storage items and decorative pieces like vases. It also includes tools for woodworking and farming. Personal items like jewelry, eyeglasses, buttons, purses, dolls, fans, match safes, pins, etc. are also in the grouping. Many of the items in this collection have a Houston or Texas provenance.
ART: Texas, as well as Houston artists are represented in the art collection. Most pieces were collected for interpretation of each historic house and date from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The highlights of our collection are works done by Emma Richardson Cherry, a local artist and owner of one of our historic houses.
ARCHIVES: This collection is composed of items on paper from the 19th and 20th centuries. It includes personal letters, currency, postcards, receipts, menus, advertisements, land deeds, ledgers, maps, etc. The majority of the collection has a Houston or Texas provenance. Highlights include family papers associated with our historic houses such as the Staiti/Riesner family, the Cherry/Reid family, the William Marsh Rice family, and the Pillot family.
PHOTOGRAPHS: This collection is made up of mostly early 20th century photographs. It includes images of Houstonians, buildings, parks and events that took place in Houston or Texas. The Staiti/Reisner family collection makes up the largest portion of this grouping. It includes interior and exterior photos of the Staiti home, family events and vacations, and oil drilling sites around Texas.
How Does THS Decide What to Take into its Collection Today?