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PTT Grants

The 1992 Amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act, Title IV (16 U.S.C. 470x-4) provide that, “The Secretary, in consultation with the Board, shall provide preservation technology and training grants to eligible applicants with a demonstrated institutional capability and commitment to the purposes of the Center, in order to ensure an effective and efficient system of research, information distribution and skills training in all the related historic preservation fields.”

This report details the Preservation Technology and Training Grants (PTT Grants) program activities in FY-2008. The PTT Grants program supports innovative preservaton technology projects in archeology, historic architecture, historic landscapes, and materials conservation.

2008 PTT Grants Call for Proposals

In FY 2008, NCPTT implemented a pre-proposal application process. Applicants were required to submit a brief one- to two-page abstract online that described their research or training idea. The pre-proposal offered applicants an opportunity to get feedback early in the grants process, while allowing NCPTT staff to quickly identify proposals that fit with NCPTT’s mission.

The call for pre-proposals was posted on the website by September 15, 2007. A total of 137 were received by Oct. 15. Program chiefs reviewed and responded to each of the pre-proposals within five days of receipt. Chiefs provided specific comments to help strengthen accepted pre-proposals and to provide future guidance for rejected pre-proposals. Staff invited applicants to submit full proposals if the pre-proposal was complete, addressed a national meed, fit the Center’s mission, and seemed cost-effective. A total of 63 completed grant applications were received and reviewed by NCPTT staff. Fifteen proposals were forwarded to a national panel for review. Overall, the pre-proposal phase of the grant process seemingly led to better quality proposals.

NCPTT convened a national review panel on March 11 by conference call. Prior to the conference call, panelists reviewed proposals and submitted comments and scores to NCPTT. Next, panelists were provided a ranked list based on their reviews prior to the call. Based on discussions, six applications were recommended by the panel for funding and ranked by priority. Budget constraints permitted NCPTT to recommend only five for funding, although it was clear that many of the projects had the potential to significantly contribute to the development of new preservation technologies.

PTT Grant 2008 Recommendations

In 2008 NCPTT funded five grants totaling $215,415:

  1. Historic Windows Assessment Project, National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States, Washington, DC, $50,000
  2. New Technology, New Opportunities: Development of a National Chert Characterization Database, Tulane University, New Orleans, La., $42,644
  3. Sustainable Fiber Reinforced Mortar (FRM) Mixtures for the Preservation of Unreinforced Masonry Architectural Heritage, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Neb., $49,771
  4. Rapid Quantification of Ceramic Paste Recipes using Digital Camera Capture and Image Analysis, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Ok., $50,000
  5. FAIC Conservation Catalog Wiki, Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC), Washington, DC, $23,000

Total Funding: $215,415

2009 PTT Grants Call for Proposals

In planning for the 2009 grant cycle, NCPTT studied the need to make a greater impact with a shrinking grant pool. Subsequently, NCPTT implemented a one-to-one match requirement and limited awards to $25,000. The grant review process was also streamlined further by eliminating one tier of review. Proposals submitted for consideration will now undergo a staff peer review followed by a national panel review. Also, pre-proposals were accepted again this year as a way to provide feedback to applications but the process was made optional.

Recent Grant Product Highlights:

PTT Grant MT-2210-07-NC-04, Conservation of Wooden Artifacts in Cemeteries: A Reference Manual, Principal Investigator, Ron Anthony, City Of Aspen Colorado. The project is about saving wooden artifacts in cemeteries by providing caretakers with information on conditions and conservation treatment options. The manual compiles the limited information on wooden cemetery artifacts into one publication.

PTT Grant MT-2210-07-NC-05, Diagnosing and Controlling Hygric Swelling of Stone, Principal Investigator, George Scherer, Princeton University. Some sedimentary stones contain clays that swell upon wetting, and this can lead to damaging stresses. The most commonly observed damage mechanism in the field with clay bearing sandstones is that of buckling, where the surface delaminates from the bulk of the stone. In this study, researchers compare experimental results to theory in the prediction of buckling and find that buckling occurs above a critical flaw aspect ratio. Because of the large size of the aspect ratio, they also explore a potential flaw growth mechanism based on subcritical deflections created by varying wetting patterns.

PTT Grant MT-2210-07-NC-07, Microbial Detoxification of Mercury Contaminated Museum Collections: Effect of Material Composition on Mercury Removal, Principal Investigator, Timberly Roane, University of Colorado Denver. NCPTT received an interim report from Dr. Roane on research to optimize use of micro-organisms for the removal of mercury from ethnographic collections. The work is progressing well and test bacteria are capable of removing up to 80% of the contaminants from human hair and horse hair.

PTT Grant MT-2210-06-NC-09, Vernacular Wooden Church Steeples in the Eastern United States: Form and Restoration, Principal Investigator, Will Beemer, Timber Framers Guild. At historic churches the steeples are the portions of the building most likely to suffer structural damage through high winds and water infiltration. Until this project, however, there were no written sources available on the structure, technology, and repair of American wooden church steeples. This project produced a series of five articles documenting steeples, interpreting steeple form and structure, and clarifying misconceptions about and offering guidance on their repair and restoration.

PTT Grant MT-2210-06-NC-02, Mechanical Anchor Strength in Stone Masonry, by Principal Investigator, Kelly Streeter, the Association for Preservation Technology International. This research project studied the failure strength and the modes of failure of different types of mechanical anchor systems in stone masonry. A secondary objective was to discover whether various non-destructive methods for evaluation of physical properties applied to the stone specimens helps to predict the tension and shear strength of the mechanical anchors.

PTT Grant MT-2210-06-NC-04, High Definition Documentation in Archaeology, Principal Investigators: John Loomis, of the Kacyra Family Foundation, and Glenn Hill, of Texas Tech University. Loomis and Hill used a 3D laser scanner and high dynamic range digital camera, along with conventional surveying and GPS, to illustrate how these technologies can be employed to cut down dramatically on the time required to document the built, structural component of archaeological sites. They used Fire Temple at Mesa Verde as a test site. In 2007 at MEVE they conducted a two-week training workshop, a two-day overview session on high definition documentation, and four four-day training workshops. To disseminate their information even more widely they designed a webinar that reached 90 people. Major deliverables include a formal report, the stipulated on-site training, high definition documentation of part of MEVE, and DVD copies of the webinar for posting with all three collaborators.

PTT Grant MT-2210-06-NC-04, Architectural Records Conference: Preserving the Architectural Record, Final Report, Principal Investigator: Ingrid Bogel, Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts. The Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) presented a national conference, Architectural Records Symposium: Managing and Preserving Design Records, at the Chicago History Museum on July 16 and 17, 2007. The sessions were tailored to meet the training needs of collections care professionals on both theoretical and practical levels. Participants learned about the significance of architectural records; the array of materials and methods used to create them, from the earliest processes to those in use today; collecting policies; appraisal; intellectual control; preventive and remedial preservation measures; innovations in conservation treatment; methods of access; reformatting; and management of electronic files.

PTT Grant MT-2210-06-NC-05, Development of a Rapid Indicator of Biodeterioration of Historic Stone Final Report, Principal Investigators: Ralph Mitchell and Christopher J. McNamara, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Biodeterioration plays an important role in the degradation of stone in historic buildings, monuments, and archeological sites. Microbial deterioration occurs through the action of organic and inorganic acids produced by biofilms. Detection of microbial deterioration of culturally important stone objects is difficult. The use of microbiological indicators of environmental conditions is common (e.g., E. coli is a key indicator of fecal contamination of water). The objective of this research project was to compare the microbial community on deteriorated and undeteriorated stone. The microbial community of both deteriorated and undeteriorated locations was dominated by Cyanobacteria. In undeteriorated locations the dominant organism was Anabaena cylindrica. In deteriorated locations, the dominant organism was Chroococcidiopsis sp. Differences between the communities suggest that microbial indicators could provide a simple and rapid means for early detection of stone biodeterioration.

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