NCPTT was founded in 1994 on the campus of Northwestern State University of Louisiana in Natchitoches, Louisiana.  In May of 2001, the Center moved into its new headquarters in the recently renovated Women’s Gymnasium, and renamed the building in honor of Lee H. Nelson, the distinguished National Park Service architect and preservation pioneer.  Lee H. Nelson Hall is one of the oldest surviving structures on the Northwestern State University campus.

The genesis of NCPTT began in September 1986 when the US Congress’ Office of Technology Assessment published Technologies for Prehistoric & Historic Preservation.  The assessment cited the critical need to establish a federally funded institution “as a mechanism to coordinate research, disseminate information, and provide training about new technologies for preservation.”

One of the strategies for implementing the OTA report findings was the recommendation to establish a “Federal Center for Preservation Technology” within the Department of the Interior.

Recommendations for a national research and development organization devoted to technical issues in preservation were adapted into legislation as part of the National Historic Preservation Act Amendments of 1992.  The legislation established the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, an advisory board (the Preservation Technology and Training Board), and the Preservation Technology and Training Grants program as major components of a new “national initiative to coordinate and promote research, distribute information, and provide training about preservation skills and technologies.”


NCPTT helps preservationists find better tools, better materials, and better approaches to conserving buildings, landscapes, sites, and collections. It conducts research and testing in its own laboratories, provides cutting edge training around the U.S., and supports research and training projects at universities and nonprofits. NCPTT pushes the envelope of current preservation practice by exploring advances in science and technology in other fields and applying them to issues in cultural resources management.

What We Do

NCPTT undertakes research at its in-house laboratories and in partnerships with universities and laboratories around the U.S.  The NCPTT labs include the National Park Service’s richest store of scientific equipment specifically designed to study environmental impacts on cultural materials.

To facilitate its unique mission, NCPTT funds research projects and training events at National Park Service sites; other federal agencies; state and tribal historic preservation offices; universities; and local, state, and national non-profits.  The Center also cooperates with international preservation organizations to promote understanding and application of technology to cultural issues.

NCPTT promotes excellence in preservation by promoting and developing educational opportunities for professionals. This includes nationwide seminars and workshops on topics like green building science and non-destructive archaeology.

The National Center’s website, publications and prominent social media presence enable it to deliver the latest news about preservation science to professional audiences and the public. Additionally, NCPTT supports the distribution of preservation information through its grants and partnerships.

What We Can Help You Do

Grants—The National Center provides direct and competitive grants to promote research and training opportunities in preservation technology.

Research—NCPTT’s website provides free, instantly downloadable research from the Center’s hundreds of grants products. Our staff also provides technical expertise on a variety of specialized scientific interests.

Research Priorities

NCPTT funds projects within several overlapping disciplinary areas.  These include:

  • Archeology
  • Architecture
  • Collections Management
  • Engineering
  • Historic Landscapes
  • Materials Conservation