July 11

Preservation vs access in action

The school where I work is currently negotiating for a building/renovation project. Since it is a government school and stands on an historic site, there are many agencies involved in the planning process. One step in the process is happening these school holidays – there is an archaelogical dig on site, looking for some significant architectural artefacts from earlier uses of the site.

I had an interesting conversation with some members of the project team today which made me think about the issues of preservation vs access raised in the Module 1 mini-lecture by Dr Pymm. Apparently, once unearthed and exposed to the air the bricks and other building materials the archaelogists find start to mould and decay, then dry out and crumble unless extraordinary measures are taken to conserve them. We briefly discussed some of the options they have to preserve and provide access to the site information: removing some of the artefacts and preserving them offsite, creating a digital presentation overlaying high-definition photographs of the excavated artefacts on to images of the site today and re-burying the artefacts, and most likely also creating an injunction to keep developers from digging out the historically significant materials.

I am not sharing pictures or specifics as I have not received permission to do so from the project team (I am still awaiting an email with a decision regarding using photos for a piece in the school newsletter next term), but I just wanted to share my experience with a preservation/conservation topic out “in the wild”, as it were.