NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) in 1990, there was concern about exposure of tribal peoples and museum personnel to these pesticides. Under NAGPRA, as tribes seek the return of their artifacts the risk of exposure increases. Linked with illnesses including kidney damage and neurological disorders, the removal and detoxification of arsenic and mercury are imperative. As artifacts are returned to tribes under NAGPRA, artifacts are often put back into cultural practice. Consequently, there is an urgent need for an effective, culturally‐sensitive, less or nondestructivemethod for mitigating metal toxicity on artifacts. The goal of this research funded by the NCPTT program was to develop a microbiological technology for the removal of mercury, in particular, from artifacts. Mercury was chosen as an initial pesticide of study due to our understanding of microbial mercury detoxification. The widespread distribution of mercury‐treated artifacts makes this research timely and will provide the methodological basis for the microbial removal of arsenic and other museum‐associated pesticides in future studies.