CURRENT HOURS: Open for classes & special events only • Touring season resumes in May 2022

Hidden Treasures

February 9, 2021

chair photo on collections databaseLiving History Farms may be closed to touring during the winter months, but did you know that you can still see many Farms favorites from the comfort of your couch?

We’ve been working hard behind the scenes on our historic artifact database and have made over 1,000 (!) of our favorite items available to you. We hope that Farms fans, student researchers, and history buffs will enjoy browsing the many LHF icons and hidden treasures we have carefully curated.

Whether you’d like to take an artifact-filled tour of Walnut Hill or you’d prefer to view some of our more hidden treasures, our online database will give you a unique look at some of the 19,000+ items that make up Living History Farms’ historic collection.

Some of the artifacts in the database are available to view during a visit to the Farms. Many others are too fragile for regular display or program use. These artifacts require special care and are usually only available for special exhibitions and scholarly research – until now!

Visit to access the database. From there you can either search using keywords or browse the collection through one of our Popular Searches links. Still not sure what to look for? There’s also a Random Images option if you need a little inspiration.

Please note that the collection database is still a work in progress. We have provided as much public information as we have available at this time.

We hope you enjoy this sneak peek into our special collection vault.


Screenshot of database homeCurator’s Notes:

Have you ever noticed that museum artifacts often have a number written on them? Each artifact has been assigned its own unique number so museum staff can keep track of them whether they’re on display or stored away. As you browse the online catalog, note the catalog numbers and try to decipher the code. Let’s use this feed mill as an example. Its catalog number is 2017.07.01. This means that the mill was donated to Living History Farms in 2017. It was part of the 7th donation of the year and it was the 1st (and perhaps only) artifact in the donation. This number is assigned as soon as an item is donated and is officially added to the collection.

Sometimes the numbers get a little tricky. Instead of a four-digit year, many first numbers are only two digits, for example “83”. That means the object was donated in 1983. Since Living History Farms opened in 1970, “70” is the earliest year found in our records.

screenshot object recordReady for something even trickier? An artifact with an X in front of a catalog number X83.160 means that the artifact was “found in the collection” and has no donor provenance. So, to “crack the code”, this means that in 1983, an LHF staff member officially cataloged this item, but made sure to add the “X” so we would know its status. Believe it or not, many – if not most – museums have artifacts that fall into this category. Museum cataloging practices have evolved greatly over the past few decades and the Farms has done monumental work over the years to document many items such as these.


Read more posts on the LHF Blog


Behind the Scenes   Collections

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