Preserving History: Wildlife Truck Conservation Project

The pickup truck in the museum’s gallery, driven by Sheriff Mike Neal (when he worked as a wildlife officer), has long been in need of conservation. The front and rear windshields were badly damaged by gunfire during the dramatic event which earned the truck its place in the Museum.


The truck’s front windshield before (left) and after conservation treatment

The truck has been left close to its original condition in order to tell the story, but that begs the question: how do you keep something that’s broken from, well, breaking? The truck’s windshields had previously been stabilized for travel but are now in need of further conservation. This requires improving the truck’s look by removing tape used to keep the windshields safe in transit. Critically, conservation was also required to prevent any further damage to the windshields over time.

Conservator Steven Pickman cleaning the rear windshield of the truck

The Museum contracted conservator Steven Pickman to work on this project. The week-long process required scaffolding to improve safety on the 14-foot-high platform.  He cleaned the fragile glass and carefully removed layers of blue painters tape which were added to stabilize the windshields for transport.

Custom acrylic mounts, seen from inside the truck, were added to stabilize the badly-damaged front windshield

Mr. Pickman coordinated with mount-makers to create custom acrylic mounts to fit inside the windshields and relieve pressure on fragile and vulnerable components.
Today the truck once again looks like it did only moments after it was damaged. The added supports will ensure that the fragile broken glass remains in position without risk of collapse.
In May of 2020, ten years after this event, we hosted Viewpoint Virtual Happy Hour: Reflections on the 2010 West Memphis Shooting with Sheriff Mike Neal. Hear the first-hand experience from Sheriff Neal of this unforgettable event as interviewed by Jonathan Thompson, Executive Director of National Sheriff’s Association and Treasurer of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Board of Officers.