Building Our Collections

The peeling layers of paint and wallpaper in 97 Orchard Street
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97 Orchardís walls held some of our most interesting artifacts: thick crusts of decaying of wallpaper and paint. Some walls were covered with 22 layers of fraying wallpaper.

The Museum brought in paper conservationist Reba Fishman Snyder. Tiny metal spatula in hand, Snyder examined the remnants caked on to the old plaster walls. She carefully peeled away samples. Some bore faint traces of their original designs; others still had barely faded patterns.

To better analyze the samples, Fishman soaked the paper and remove small patches. Some of these pieces are in our collections, ornate evidence of how landlords and tenants decorated the building.