Preservation of the World's Largest Collection of Southwest Indian Pottery

November 11, 2015

The Pottery Project

With the help of many generous donors, Arizona State Museum was able to build a climate-controlled vault and state-of-the-art conservation laboratory, both completed in 2008. The Agnese and Emil Haury Southwest Native Nations Pottery Vault provides a stable storage environment for the ceramics in terms of temperature, relative humidity, and air quality. The lab provides increased work space for the conservators' continuous work ensuring the long-term survival of all the museum's collections

Conservation Lab

The conservation lab provides state-of-the-art facilities for the treatment of a wide range of materials. The collections of archaeological and ethnographic materials include a diverse array of materials that can receive specialized care in the new conservation lab. The lab offers flexible space for treating large and small objects. The wet chemistry and analytical rooms provide space for specialized research and treatment. The wet chemistry room offers a large fume hood, and space to perform chemical tests away from valuable objects. The analytical room accommodates the lab’s microscopes, Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR), and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) equipment. The addition of these analytical facilities allow the Preservation Division to conduct primary research and improve the quality of conservation treatments.

The Agnese and Emil Haury Southwest Native Nations Pottery Vault

The secure, climate-controlled pottery vault is an important improvement in the preservation of the museum’s collection of southwestern pottery. Inside, the relative humidity and temperature are carefully controlled to slow the agents of deterioration. Ultimately, 20,000 whole vessels will be housed here. Presently, vessels in the most urgent need of stabilization are being treated before being moved in to the new storage location. The vault uses movable compact storage units to optimize limited space. Windows allow the public a view at the storage conditions and a peek into the vast collection.