Conservation & Curation of Submerged Cultural Resources

UAB Conservation Laboratory is a well-equipped and professionally staffed laboratory that serves multiple functions. Its two primary purposes are:
1)   The treatment center for Navy artifacts that have been recovered from underwater archaeological sites;
2)   An environmentally-controlled curatorial repository for Navy's recovered artifacts that are not on loan to museums or other institutions.

Below are information points concerning the Conservation Laboratory:

  • The UAB Conservation Laboratory is an integral part of the NHHC Underwater Archaeology Branch. Conservation is a main component of any underwater archaeology program, as artifacts recovered from submerged archaeological sites require special preservation care.
  • Upon removal from the underwater environment, the Navy's underwater cultural heritage is in immediate danger due to the deteriorating affects of increased oxygen, temperature, light, and other atmospheric conditions.
  • While artifacts are undergoing conservation in the laboratory, they are also scientifically analyzed and thoroughly documented to prevent loss of information throughout the stabilization process.
  • The Laboratory serves as a curation facility for more than 1500 artifacts, while laboratory staff manages an artifact loan program to qualified national and international museums that encompasses over 7000 artifacts.
  • Artifacts recovered from underwater sites that are now in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Navy periodically require condition assessments and, in some cases, subsequent treatment to ensure long-term preservation. This is generally performed at the UAB Conservation Laboratory.
  • The Laboratory and associated conservation activities provide information to be disseminated to the museum, conservation, and general scientific communities through professional conferences, outreach programs, reports, and journal articles. The laboratory also serves as an educational tool for groups of visitors, including Navy personnel, school groups, and the general public.

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