Betsy pointed me in the direction of this very interesting article today from the New York Times. It tells the story of the eclectic collection of the late John Lattimer, which is currently being sorted and sent to auction by his daughter, Evan. There doesn't really seem to be much of a theme when it comes to the artifacts Lattimer accrued in his lifetime--a dinosaur egg, the collar Lincoln wore the night of his assassination, a medieval torture device, and Göring's boxer shorts (Lattimer, a medical officer at the Nuremberg war tribunals, treated the Nazi while he was imprisoned) are just a few of the 3,000+ relics.
It seems that every item in the Lattimer Collection has an equally fascinating story to go with it. Within the Museum's collection, it's important to us that our artifacts have a personal connection to their former owners and convey a story. Whenever possible, we like to display objects with a picture, quote from the owner, and/or anecdote on how it was used. Though these items often seem mundane, they become emblematic of a bigger picture and show Jewish history from a first-person perspective. Thea Gottesmann Rumstein's dress and tote bag, on display on the second floor, look simply ordinary at first glance. Upon reading the accompanying wall text, however, visitors learn that Thea hand-stitched blue and white checked skirt and blouse from fabric supplied by US armed forces after her liberation from Mauthausen: it was only clothing she had aside from her camp uniform, with which she made a bag to carry any food she found as she journeyed back to Vienna.
So go through your attics/basements/storage units/closets/grandparents houses! We are always eager to welcome new objects into our collection, especially when these items have a personal story that accompany them. (In addition to items described in the link, we are currently seeking items pertaining to Jews adopting children from other cultures and countries. We currently have items from adoptees from Asia, South America, and others.)