The challenges to preserving our cultural heritage in an age of global warming and ideologically-based political strife are many, particularly as regards manuscripts and manuscript collections. Fragile and vulnerable, manuscripts stored in collections large and small, are at risk to damage by water, fire and human intervention both here in America and abroad. And yet, until 2009, we lacked a viable strategy for responding to catastrophes that affect collections in situ, and remediating damage of the past before texts are irretrievably lost.

The primary goals of this grant project were several: (1) To develop, build and deploy a cost-effective, transportable, multispectral digital imaging lab; (2) To test the system in the field on a manuscript held in Dresden Germany which had sustained severe water-damage during the infamous 1945 bombing; (3) To use the lighting array to attempt Reflectance Transformation Imagery on the manuscript as a means of recovery; and (4) To develop a modality whereby the lab could be made available to future researchers and projects for little or no cost. In three of the its four objectives – the exception being RTI – the project has proven a resounding success.

This project was made possible through Grant MT-2210-10-NC-04 from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT).

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]nps.gov
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119