The Barn Find
The foundation of Patterns of Meanings is a collection of artifacts from the steel industry. Saved initially out of the Youngstown Tube and Sheet Mill by R. Gene Koch from Lake Milton, OH, the collection includes pristine wooden patterns from the steel mill, including gears, railcar wheels, and crankshafts, along with thousands of corresponding blueprints. The patterns are 100-120 years old but in excellent condition. The purchase included over 6,000 items, including the patterns, blueprints, and accompanying products, representing the infrastructure of everything we know today. This historic collection began its new life when Chip Barletto and Cory Bonnet discovered it.
While the find was a treasure, it presented a problem in what would Bonnet and Barletto do to get this treasure moved from the barn.
When Bonnet first visited the barn, he was under the impression that he might be able to grab a few items to reclaim for his art. He found so much more than that - a barn stacked floor to ceiling with pristine patterns from the steel mill. Additionally, in the basement of the owner's home, a wall of rolled-up blueprints corresponded to these patterns.
While excited at finding this treasure trove of historical artifacts and the opportunity it might provide, it presented some challenges.
The first hurdle was where they would store the collection. That problem was solved when the Energy Innovation Center, Bonnet's studio location, agreed to allow him to use the second floor of their building for storage.
The biggest challenge, however, came in planning and executing the move of the patterns from Ohio to its new home in Pittsburgh.
With the help of a small crew of ad hoc workers hired from a recovery shelter that Barletto supports, the two hauled ten 26-foot box trucks full of patterns and blueprints to the loading dock of the Energy Innovation Center, then another 100 yards to the second-floor space.
When exhibiting Patterns, the team considers how they can present the collection in that awe-inspiring way that they felt the day they discovered it.
Pictured below are images of the collection before leaving the barn. To give an idea of scale, the first image of the barn find is of 6'4" Bonnet digging out of one corner of the barn.
Photos courtesy of Tim Hickman.
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