'Solving History's Mysteries' at The Virginia Historical Society. Photo by M. Myers. Used by permission from the Virginia DepartmentofHistoricResources
Archaeological exhibits can be very successful ways to communicate discoveries to the public and to raise funds for and interest in future research and excavations. In order to ensure that these exhibits do not cause damage to the artifacts, and ultimately reflect poorly on the archaeological field, there are a number of considerations that should be taken into account when planning the exhibit.
Who will maintain the cases? Exhibit cases cannot just be created and left. Periodically, they will require dusting and simple maintenance (such as light bulb replacement). If someone with a basic understanding of artifact handling does not do this, damage may be done to the artifacts.
The creation of exhibits and the techniques that can be used to make them safe for the artifacts in them are huge topics. The latter has been covered very well in a CD-Rom created by the National Park Service entitled "Exhibit Conservation Guidelines." It consists of 370 pages of narrative text, technical notes, and illustrations. It is an invaluable resource for all exhibit team members because it presents a framework for incorporating conservation into the exhibition process.
Exhibit Conservation Guidelines is available free of charge to National Park Service sites. It is available for sale to all other persons or organizations for $49.95 from the Harpers Ferry Historical Association:
Copyright © 2006 Colleen Brady, Molly Gleeson, Melba Myers, Claire Peachey, Betty Seifert, Howard Wellman, Emily Williams, Lisa Young. All rights reserved. Commercial use or publication of text and graphic images is prohibited. Authors reserve the right to update this information as appropriate.