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Posts Tagged ‘Preservation’

Sec. Kluttz with Deputy Sec. Kevin Cherry, State Archivist Sarah Koonts and Manager of the Government Records Section Becky McGee-Lankford

What happens to all those old records that government agencies produce and save? Cultural Resources Sec. Susan Kluttz found out today on her visit to the State Records Center. Part of the State Archives, the center is one of three Raleigh facilities that house records from local and state agencies across North Carolina.

Sec. Kluttz and Becky McGee-Lankford explore the stacks at the State Records Center

While on her tour of the center, the Secretary learned some pretty interesting facts, including:

  • The Government Records Section of the Archives, which manages the three records centers in Raleigh, currently holds just under 200,000 cubic feet of records. If you filled that space up with water, you’d need almost 1.5 million gallons! Whoa!
  • During 2012, the section destroyed nearly 6,500 cubic feet of records that are no longer needed and deemed unimportant by their agency of origin.

The work of the Government Records Section is what makes open and transparent government possible, and it’s only a small part of the work that the State Archives and other Cultural Resources agencies do to preserve our state’s treasures. Sec. Kluttz looks forward to discovering more of this work this summer. (And we’ll tell you what she discovers. Stay tuned!)

See more pictures of the visit here.

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By Sarah Watkins-Kenney, QAR Lab Director/Chief Conservator

This piece introduces the Queen Anne’s Revenge 12-Step conservation program, by briefly describing processes undertaken in each step of an object’s treatment.  Future blog posts reporting on the progress of different artifacts will identify which step or stage that piece has reached at that time.  In this way you can follow artifacts in their journey from ocean floor to museum door.

Step 1: Recovery

Step 1: Recovery

All artifacts recovered from the Queen Anne’s Revenge (wreck 31CR314) go through a 12 Step Program in their journey from ocean floor to museum door.  The amount of time, type and scope of actual treatment in each step depends on the nature of the object – including its material, size, condition and the type of artifact.

At any one time staff at the QAR Lab may be working with several different artifacts, all at different stages in their particular conservation program.  Over the coming weeks and months, we will report on conservation progress of different types of artifacts as they are treated, recorded and researched at the QAR Lab in Greenville.

Step 1: Recovery = planning, preparation and on-site conservation work which includes: assignment of QAR artifact identification numbers; recovery from seabed; documentation including as recovered photography; wet storage at the dockside and then transfer wet to QAR Lab.

Step 2: Post-Recovery Processing – Analysis I = documentation and cataloguing, measurement, counts, ,basic identification of materials, sorting & preparation for wet storage, creation of lab records, and inventory.

Step 3: Wet Storage = transfer to wet stable storage in solutions appropriate to the type of material. Monitoring solution levels and changing out solutions as needed.

Step 7: Cleaning II

Step 7: Cleaning II

Step 4: Analysis II = assessment & identification of materials, condition, and artifact type. This step includes X-radiography of concretions to “see what is inside” and identification of materials such as wood species.

Step 5: Cleaning I = pre-cleaning documentation including photography to record condition before treatment.  Removal of concretions as needed.

Step 6: Desalination = removal of soluble salts from all objects. For metals by electrolytic reduction (ER); for non-metals by soaking in water; measuring soluble salt levels in changes of solution monitors their extraction from objects.

Step 7: Cleaning II = removal of stains, fine concretion and desalination solution residues from object surfaces.

Step 8: Bulking, Consolidation, Drying = for example replacing water in wood with  Polyethylene Glycol Wax (PEG) followed by controlled air drying or freeze-drying ; and consolidation of glass prior to controlled drying.

Step 10: Analysis and Identification

Step 10: Analysis and Identification

Step 9: Protective coatings = for example, application of protective coatings (lacquers or waxes) to metal artifacts.

Step 10: Analysis III = final Examination & analysis to confirm identification of artifacts and materials made of.

Step 11: Repair/Reconstruction = for example, reconstruction of ceramic vessels, or construction of support mounts to ensure safe handling, and study.

Step 12: Final Documentation = Illustration, final photography, completion of records and documentation including recommendations for storage and display conditions, packing for transfer to the museum.

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This post is by Shanna Daniels, QAR Conservator.

Many of you are probably wondering what happens to the artifacts once they are recovered from the shipwreck site. At the end of each day, QAR field staff carefully transfers artifacts from the recovery vessel to storage tanks containing water, dockside.  At the end of each week, field staff prepares objects for the journey to the QAR lab by packing them in Rubbermaid containers well padded with wet foam and rags. Once off loaded at the QAR Lab, the objects are placed in temporary wet storage (in tanks containing tap water) until the following week, when the post-recovery processing fun begins for the QAR Lab staff.

The purpose of post-recovery processing is to document, record and catalog each artifact as it comes into the lab, to begin the paper trail and then to get artifacts into an appropriate storage environment as soon as possible.  Recording and documenting includes weighing, measuring, correctly labeling artifact tags, and photography. Each artifact has a unique find number that relates back to its location on site, and which will be used to document everything that happens to the object in future.

Post-recovery processing gives the QAR Lab staff their first opportunity to see the artifacts and to note if anything in particular stands out with each artifact.  For example, if we observe a ceramic embedded in the concretion, we’ll note it.

After every artifact has been processed, the next stage is to place the artifacts in long-term stable wet storage. Concretions are usually placed first in numbered crates and then the crates are placed in a numbered tank; the crate and tank location of each artifact is noted on the objects’ record so they can be easily found.  Each tank contains a basic solution with a pH of 10 (2.5% sodium carbonate in tap water) to slow down the corrosion that could continue to occur if placed in just regular tap water.  Ceramics, glass, wood, and other organics are placed in tap water.   Once stable in wet storage the artifacts await the next step in their conservation treatment.

The final stage in the post-recovery process is completion of documentation.  Each artifact’s information is recorded on a lab sheet, as well as on the QAR artifact database.  This information provides not only the weights, measurements, and storage location of each artifact but also where the artifact was recovered from on the site.  Documentation is a crucial part of conservation because it starts the process of analysis and conservation for the artifacts.  It allows both archaeologist and conservators to view, locate, and analyze each artifact while it goes through the conservation process here at the QAR Lab.

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