NATIONAL PARK SERVICE ANNOUNCES THE 2017 PRESERVATION TECHNOLOGY AND TRAINING GRANT FUNDING OPPORTUNITY
WASHINGTON –The National Park Service (NPS) today opened the application period for 2017 Preservation Technology and Training Grants (PTT Grants) to create better tools, better materials, and better approaches to conserving buildings, landscapes, sites, and collections. The PTT Grants are administered by the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT), the National Park Service’s innovation center for the preservation community. NCPTT has set aside $300,000 for the grant program, pending the availability of funding.
Kirk Cordell, Deputy Associate Director for Science, Technology & Training, said “NCPTT’s grants program supports innovative projects that develop new tools and technologies to improve the preservation of the nation’s historic resources.”
The competitive grants program will provide funding to federal agencies, states, tribes, local governments, and non-profit organizations. PTT Grants will support the following activities:
Innovative research that develops new technologies or adapts existing technologies to preserve cultural resources (typically $25,000 to $40,000)
Specialized workshops or symposia that identify and address national preservation needs (typically $15,000 to $25,000)
How-to videos, mobile applications, podcasts, best practices publications, or webinars that disseminate practical preservation methods or provide better tools for preservation practice (typically $5,000 to $15,000)
The maximum grant award is $40,000. The actual grant award amount is dependent on the scope of the proposed activity.
NCPTT does not fund “bricks and mortar” grants.
NCPTT funds projects within several overlapping disciplinary areas. These include:
In order to focus research efforts, NCPTT requests innovative proposals that advance the application of science and technology to historic preservation in the following areas:
Climate Change Impacts
Disaster Planning and Response
Modeling and Managing Big Data
Innovative Techniques for Documentation
Protective Coatings and Treatments
Other research topics may be considered for funding.
Who may apply?
U.S. universities and colleges,
U.S. non-profit organizations: museums, research laboratories, professional societies and similar organizations in the U.S. that are directly associated with educational or research activity, and
government agencies in the U.S.: National Park Service and other federal, state, territorial and local government agencies, as well as Hawaiian Natives, Native American and Alaska Native tribes and their Tribal Historic Preservation Offices.
Other organizations can participate only as contractors to eligible U.S. partners. Grants funds support only portions of projects that are undertaken or managed directly by U.S. partners and expended in the U.S. and its territories.
How do I apply?
Applications must be submitted using Grants.gov. Search in Grants.gov for Funding Opportunity #P16AS00579, under Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number 15.923 or 2017 Preservation Technology and Training Grants.
When is the deadline for applications?
Applications must be submitted by 11:59pm EDT Thursday, November 3, 2016. If the project is funded, applicants should expect to be able to begin work no sooner than July 2017.
For questions about the please contact NCPTT at 318-356-7444.
This pre-session was a joint meeting between conservation professionals and facilities engineers, architects, and administrators who belong to the International Association of Museum Facility Administrators. The topic of the day was how to foster a collegial and collaborative working relationship between conservation and facilities staff so together we can preserve collections with well-managed storage and exhibition facilities. The day was structured in three sections, each with a panel of experts and a tabletop exercise. The three of us attended, and agreed to blog together as the day was jam-packed with inspiration and useful tips. We were hoping to learn strategies for building relationships with our facilities managers, including developing common language, shared understanding of goals, and respecting each other’s areas of expertise.
The first session, Share the Risk: Collaborative approaches to facilities construction, renovation, and operation was moderated by Joelle Wickens, (Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library). Key takeaways from this session were that no one person owns a facilities problem, and monthly meetings, meaningful and well-planned monthly meetings, are a good strategy for building relationships that successfully address the inevitable problems. Out of work time is also important…sharing a beer with each other was mentioned throughout the day as a way to break down those silo walls.
Panelists included Jack Plumb (National Library of Scotland), John Castle and Lois Price (Winterthur), Rob Waller (Protect Heritage Corp), and Deborah Potter (Tate). One of Jack’s tips was to build in an orientation for new contractors with collections care to explain the local policies and behavior expectations that might be different from one jobsite to another. Jack also has a very interesting program for doing temperature and humidity mapping research using students from Heriot Watt University doing their dissertations. I wanted to know more about this program, and how to find students that are interested in this work!
Lois Price and John Castle got an NEH Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections grant to improve their wireless building management system, and in the process, found that the working relationships between conservation and facilities staff, and each assumptions made about each other, were not so productive. So they set about doing a qualitative survey of their peers across the world, and they reported the results to us. The data set is rich, with lots of variable possible including institutional budget, frequency of joint meetings, rate of success, and decision-making rights. Their conclusions, while not statistical, point toward the fact that nothing can substitute for a good team, and the meeting more frequently can cure a number of long-standing challenges. For the skeptic who says “More meetings? I ain’t going to no more stinkin’ meetings” one merely has to say, “Let’s get you into the right meetings!”
Rob Waller talked about prioritizing different risks to collections, focusing on clearly defined goals. He explained the importance of filtering what falls under facilities managers’ ability to control. He reiterated that in many cases, the 80/20 rule applies: 20% of the risks contribute to 80% or more of the total risk, so these should be prioritized if at all possible.
Deborah Potter shared Tate’s collaborative approach to facilities planning for six sites, 72,000 works of art and a million library and archive materials. In debriefs from system failures, they discuss the impact on the collection, and approach how to prevent it from happening again, also taking a risk-based approach to collections care. Their team includes registrars, collections,, communications, and facilities staff. With a “green vision” aiming to reduce carbon emissions by 15%, they are embarking on an ambitious but doable program including energy plant and HVAC controls replacement, LED lighting, solar panels. Other sustainability initiatives include waste management, recycling, up-cycling, a flower meadow, and beekeeping! They’re not the only ones keeping bees…we found these on the roof just outside the door of the pre-session room!
This first session ended with a tabletop exercise in which temperature and humidity parameters for an incoming loan challenge our fictitious small institution, stemming from poorly written loan agreement, lack of historical data, and lack of communication between the director and the staff. Of course we sorted it all out in 15 minutes, but with the understanding that these problems are ongoing and are exacerbated by the fact that we have no industry standards for libraries, museums and archives. One group noted that such agreements can be used as leverage to make needed upgrades.
The second session, Share the Planning: Collaborative approaches to emergency management, was moderated by Rebecca Fifield, Chair, AIC Collections Care Network, and Head of Collection Management, Special Collections at New York Public Library
Collection Emergency Plans at Museum Victoria
Maryanne McCubbin, head of Strategic Collection Management for the Museum Victoria, presented the approach they have to managing risks in the multiple museum buildings and storage facilities where they house over 17 million state collection items. Citing recent floods that have tested their plan and preparedness, she emphasized how crucial it is for collections staff to communicate accurately and often with facilities and provide a liaison with facilities as well as emergency (first) responders (fire, police, authorities). She also commented on an often overlooked approach to managing risks, or inherent dangers, within a collection, such as hazardous substances in collections.
She stressed that a plan should be thorough yet brief. It can have appendices that provide more specific and detailed outlined activities for departments. However the plan should be developed through extensive negotiations with facilities, conservation and security. She cited a couple pitfalls for any great plan: failure to regularly induct new hires to the plan, especially in departments with high-turnover such as facilities and security; keeping contact information for key personnel up to date; reviewing incident reports to improve your plan; and practice!
The Lone Responder: Building an Emergency team with limited resources
Laura Hortz Stanton, Executive director of Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA), discussed how crucial it is for small historic house museum, societies and municipal museums with limited staff and resources to connect with their local emergency management personnel. Reaching out to your local fire or police is important so they can become familiar with the building(s) as well as the contents, and key staff members. They can even review your emergency response plans and provide recommendations. Another key point was the importance of being prepared for the recovery after a disaster. “Who you gonna call?” A small museum that does not have a conservation and/or collections staff needs to keep an up-to-date contact list for local or regional collections professionals that can respond quickly to a call for assistance after a disaster of any size. She pointed out resources available online to help develop plans, including online templates and training, opportunities to benefit from mutual aid memberships in your state, local assistance networks, as well as AIC’s National Heritage Responders (NHR, formerly AIC-CERT). The majority of these links can be found on AIC’s website.
NFPA Codes for Cultural Heritage Institutions
Nick Artim of Heritage Protection Group was not able to attend the session as scheduled. He did participate in the half day pre-conference session on Saturday titled Choosing and Implementing a Fire Suppression System for a Collecting Institution. (AIC Blog Link http://tinyurl.com/hhdtv6z) For more information regarding Codes and Standards for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) see links provided at the end of this blog post.
The session concluded with a tabletop exercise titled An 88-year old dam and a hurricane on the way! Teams were tasked with emergency planning for the fictional Decoy Museum, a small museum located on the coast of Maryland with a history of flooding. The museum is down river from an 88 year old dam and a hurricane is quickly approaching. Teams were shown a photograph of the exterior of the building and it’s proximity to the water, history of the site as it has fared in previous storms, images of the interior and a description of the collection. We were also told that our emergency plan is out of date and the only copy stored on a computer. Using the expertise at our individual tables we were asked to review our emergency preparedness and how we would respond in our respective roles. As the clock counted down we were provided with updates on storm progress, a status report on rising flood waters, and given a 24 hour evacuation notice to see how circumstances would affect our strategies.
Although initial discussions were focused on collections, most teams concluded that the safety of the public and staff came first, followed by securing collection data (hard drives/ records), securing the building, and initiating organization for return and recovery. Two key takeaways from the exercise included a discussion around FEMA’s Incident Command Structure and the concept of “dead” building. ICS is a standardized approach to the command, control, and coordination of emergency response. ICS offers flexibility to respond to small to large incidents, defining key roles to be filled rather than strictly identifying individuals. “Dead” building is a term used by facilities professionals to describe a full building shutdown and disconnection from utilities. As part of your plan it is important to know how long it will take to shut down your building as well as bring it back online.
The third session, Share the Responsibility: Collaborative approaches to selecting appropriate environmental guidelines, was moderated by Patricia Silence, Director of Preventive Conservation, Colonial Williamsburg.
Select Guidelines and Standards
Selecting guidelines and standards can’t be boiled down to just a number because it depends on factors such as the building envelope, outside air temperatures, HVAC equipment, climate, etc. and how well their interaction matches capability of building and environment. The speakers discussed using guidelines and not standards as a basis for procedures and policies, and how to maintain the notion that the indoor environment is a fundamental component to preservation of collection. Other key points made by this panel included:
Consistent monitoring leads to meaningful conversations
Environmental control includes lighting, ventilation, and pest control in addition to temperature and RH
Customized specifications should be developed for each institution and collection, looking for “parameters in lieu of more science” and reinforcing the point that “70/50 is no longer an appropriate, practical, sustainable, or useful set-point.”
Sandy West’s family bought Ossabaw Island, a barrier island off the coast of Georgia, in 1924. For almost a century, she inhabited the “Main House,” one of the few buildings on the island, and worked to protect the island and share its beauty with others. In 2010, FAIC joined furniture conservator David Bayne in a program to bring emerging conservation students to the island to gain hands-on training in historic home housekeeping and preventive conservation. The culmination of four summer workshops on the island resulted in a 40-page guide to caring for West’s home, prepared in 2015 for the State of Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources, which will gain control of the house after West’s death.
As a result of West’s eventual financial instability, the 25,000-acre island was sold in 1978 to the State of Georgia for a discounted price in hopes of preserving the sacred place. As a result, Ossabaw became Georgia’s first Heritage Preserve. The deal with the state allowed for West to remain in the colonial revival mansion on the island until her death (at the time, a state-hired actuary predicted she’d live to be 78). Now at the age of 103, West recently relocated to Savannah to access more affordable full-time care.
The FAIC workshops (see the plan for the 2015 course) taught the basics of preventive conservation in the pink 1920’s Main House. Ossabaw’s remoteness and climate presented a unique medley of housekeeping problems for the groups to consider. These workshops explored the relationship between objects, their history of use, and their long-term preservation in a historic house setting.
During each day of the two-week program, participants learned about different materials and how to care for them. The activities ranged from pest management to furniture handling; textile cleaning to taxidermy examination; and maintenance of book and paper collections. Participants gained experience in assessing and prioritizing issues with limited time and resources. The site contextualized objects in poor condition with their environment and acted as a counterpoint to the experience of working in a museum lab.