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Nine projects selected for 2007 funding



More than $350,000 will fund research to protect America’s historic legacy as part of the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training’s PTT Grants program.

Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne recently announced the funding of nine projects that tackle preservation problems such as cleaning contaminated museum artifacts and making use of post-disaster data from multiple agencies.

“NCPTT’s goal is to equip preservation professionals with progressive technology-based research and training,” Kirk Cordell, NCPTT executive director, said. “Many of America’s most cherished cultural resources have benefited from NCPTT research, including the Statue of Liberty, Congressional Cemetery and numerous National Parks. Our 2007 PTT Grant recipients will potentially protect many additional cultural resources through technological innovation.”

Finalists were selected from 44 applications submitted by eligible agencies, including federal and non-federal government laboratories; accredited museums; colleges and universities; non-profit organizations; offices, units, and Cooperative Study Units of the National Park System; and State Historic Preservation Offices, tribal preservation offices, and local organizations.

The 2007 PTT Grants Awards will fund the following research:

School of Engineering, University of Vermont, $49,900
Heritage Preservation Engineering: Curriculum Development

The School of Engineering at the Universityof Vermont is in the process of adopting heritage preservation engineering as an area of focus. This will make it one of the first engineering programs in the U.S. focused on quantitative techniques and methodologies applied to the engineering evaluation and remediation of heritage structures. In order to develop curricular materials that adequately reflect the current state of the art, the university will convene a colloquium of noted heritage preservation engineers and design professionals for that purpose. The colloquium will result in the creation of new curricula along with publication of the colloquium proceedings.

New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission, $49,200
Adapting Post-Disaster Data for Local Government Use

After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, New Orleans benefited from a wide range of volunteer, university, state, federal and other efforts. In the areas of architecture and preservation, many of these efforts were recorded in electronic format and done specifically to support the HDLC, whose staff was cut to minimal levels. How does an agency adapt this wealth of data to meet local needs? This project will use real world data to establish standards for future disaster-related preservation work.

Princeton University, $48,900
Diagnosing and Controlling Hygric Swelling of Stone

Many sedimentary stones, including those widely used in historic buildings on the east coast of the US, swell when wet, leading to stress and cracking. Princeton proposes to develop methods for quantifying the stress, identify the flaws that trigger cracking, and optimize treatments to prevent the damage. They would also develop experimental methods for quantifying the rate and magnitude of swelling, which are essential for diagnosing the risk to a building, and evaluating the effectiveness of treatment.

University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, $51,200
Microbial Detoxification of Mercury Contaminated Museum Collections: Effect of Material Composition on Mercury Removal

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA ) has generated increased interest in the mitigation of metal toxicity associated with metal-treated museum collections, which pose health risks to museum personnel and tribal members. The research proposed here represents a novel, microbiologically-based mercury mitigation method for the remediation of contaminated cultural collections. Naturally-occurring mercury- volatilizing bacteria will be used to reduce the mercury concentrations associated with treated materials. The bacterial conversion of mercury into a gaseous form that can be properly disposed of reduces the material-associated mercury concentration. During bacterial treatment, microbiological and analytical chemistry methods will be used to monitor the environmental parameters needed to optimize mercury removal.

Cornerstones Community Partnerships, $13,700
An Emergency Flood Mitigation Manual for Earthen Architecture

Cornerstones Community Partnerships, the Santa Fe nonprofit organization internationally known for its community-based adobe preservation model, will develop an emergency flood mitigation manual. This manual will serve as a guide for emergency preparedness teams, homeowners, and contractors in the stabilization and recovery of storm-damaged earthen architecture in the western U.S. and border region. The organization’s PTT Grant will fund the preparation, publication, and public dissemination of the latest flood-mitigation techniques that Cornerstones has developed in response to recent disastrous flooding in southern New Mexico. The publication will be the first of its kind to focus on disaster conditions affecting earthen architecture.

City of Aspen, Colorado, $23,100
Conservation of Wooden Artifacts in Cemeteries

This project will produce a report that summarizes information on wood deterioration, conservation and preservation options that will allow cemetery stewards to extend the life of fragile wooden artifacts. Additionally, researchers will identify research priorities for long-term conservation of these artifacts. More durable artifacts in the cemetery landscapes, such as stone markers and metal grave enclosures, have readily available documents on conservation methodologies. There is no single resource available that explains conservation issues for wooden artifacts in cemeteries. This project is intended to fill that void.

Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, $14,800
Aerial Thermal Survey of New Philadelphia, Ill. Town Site

This project will conduct low-altitude aerial surveys using thermal imaging to determine whether the actual spatial extent of New Philadelphia’s lots and streets can be detected through such technologies. The town was the first planned and legally founded by a free African-American in the United States. It grew as a multi-racial community from 1836 through the 1880s. A surveyor’s plat and town plan filed in 1836 set out a grid of blocks, lots, alleys and streets. Geophysical and archeological investigations to date have located limited extents of the town’s remains now buried beneath agricultural fields and prairie.

Mississippi State University, $46,100
Establishing an Elemental Baseline for Sourcing Shell and Shell-Tempered Artifacts in the Eastern Woodlands of North America using Laser Ablation- Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS)

A non-destructive method of sourcing shell artifacts and shell-tempered pottery using Laser Ablation-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (LA -ICP-MS) has recently been developed (Peacock et al., under review). To make the method widely applicable, background chemical data on shells from different watersheds are needed. LA -ICP-MS analysis of shell samples from sites across eastern North America is proposed in order to create a database for researchers interested in conducting non-destructive sourcing studies of shell and shelltempered artifacts, especially sensitive artifacts such as museum specimens and burial accompaniments for which destructive analyses are undesirable.

University of Arizona, $50,000
Evaluation of Conservation and Preservation Practices in a Southwest Pottery Collection

A variety of materials and methods have been used to preserve ceramic vessels. Many have proven successful, while others are damaging. Monitoring and evaluation of past treatments is a documented research priority in the conservation field. The Arizona State Museum proposes to examine, record and analyze the performance of past treatments on the museum’s collection. Previous grant funds enabled conditions assessment of 20,000 southwest vessels and a modern storage facility. NCPTT funds will be used to monitor and evaluate previous preservation treatments. This research will enable researchers to identify patterns in archeological methods, museum management and conservation.

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National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119