Naval History and Heritage Command

UA Conservation
Description

Conservation and Curation

The Underwater Archaeology & Conservation Laboratory is responsible for the stabilization, treatment, preservation, research, and curation of Navy artifacts recovered from sunken and terrestrial military craft. Conservation is an integral part of any underwater archaeology program as artifacts from submerged archaeological sites require special preservation care.

The lab has projects running year-round that aim to protect artifacts from further deteriorating due to increased oxygen, temperature, light, and other atmospheric conditions. Each project involves several stages including initial scientific assessment and documentation, conservation treatment, and final scientific analysis and documentation. Determining the proper treatment plan for each individual artifact is crucial, as using chemicals which are too harsh or improper for the material type can cause long-term damage.

In addition to active conservation, the lab serves as a curation facility for more than 3,200 artifacts and the staff manages an artifact loan program that encompasses over 11,000 artifacts.

The ultimate goal of the lab is to preserve artifacts and their history so that information gleamed from them may be shared with the public by disseminating information to various communities including museums, conservation associations, and general scientific bodies. The lab is open to visitors, including researchers, military personnel, school groups, and the general public.

To contact UAB about arranging a visit to the Underwater Archaeology Conservation Lab or the artifact loan program, please visit the NHHC Directory.