Communication between archaeologists and museum specialists

Arthur W. Vokes

Abstract

The majority of archaeological research in North America is being undertaken by for-profit, independent contract archaeology firms or by cultural resource management programs affiliated with university departments or museums. Often, the training and education received by the staffs of these operations entailed little or no instruction in conservation or basic museum practices. The information and knowledge held by these individuals is often gleamed from prior experience and/or instruction from their peers. Therefore, it is important for the staff of these operations to understand how and who to contact when confronted in the field or lab with problems or need general information. Often the information may be no more complex than knowing what packaging material or adhesives are most suitable for a class of material when preparing it for permanent storage. These issues can be compounded by the sheer scale of these collections, often exceeding several hundred cubic feet of material, and the temporal constraints under which contract work is often undertaken. Understanding the structure and nature of contract operations is central to being effective in communicating with them. The presentation will attempt to outline the general structure of these firms and discuss the problems and possible solutions involved in working with them.