Don DiMugno has a knack for displaying his collections. Friends pay the ultimate compliment when they tell him that “everything looks just as though it belongs.” Here are some of his best tips:
Whenever possible, maintain your collections by category or theme. Mixing collections (different periods or subjects) can create a sense of chaos. Keeping all of his construction toys together, for example–cranes, trucks, steam shovels, and so on–helps DiMugno focus and appreciate their similarities and differences. Another display might start with a great piece of Coca-Cola advertising, to which he might add other items with the same theme: a cooler, glasses, and maybe other food or snack items of the same era. Before you know it, you’re purposely scouting for other components to complement the tableau.
Go seasonal. With huge groupings of holiday memorabilia, including Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas, DiMugno rotates the pieces into areas of prominence around the appropriate time of year.
Be sure to leave enough space so that your eye can appreciate each individual piece. Don’t be afraid to “play”–move and rearrange items regularly.
Be careful to minimize sunlight. Color, patina, and composition can all be compromised by direct sunlight, and it doesn’t take long to do irreparable damage.
New Englanders, beware: Avoid extremes of temperature and moisture. If you leave a fine collectible near a window, radiator, woodstove, or fireplace, it will suffer damage as it expands in the warmth, then contracts on a cold winter night, and may eventually crack.
Documentation is the single most effective way to protect your collections. Create a photo album, a video, or a computer file where you can access an image of each item along with important information relevant to each piece: when and where you bought it, cost, condition, and so on. Your documentation will serve you well in assessing and insuring the value of your collections.