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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Inside the Vault at Historic Jamestowne

JAMESTOWN — On select Wednesdays, a new world opens up at Historic Jamestowne. Visitors can get ‘Inside the Vault’ and meet the curator team, see their lab, and visit collections not currently on display.

The Inside the Vault tour takes visitors behind the scenes to the Jamestown archaeology lab and collections facility, where visitors tour the lab with a senior team member to learn about the collection of artifacts recovered by Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists since 1994.

The tour begins at the Pocahontas statue where guests are greeted by a curator.

The tour begins at the Pocahontas statue. (Stephanie Sabin/WYDaily)

The group then walks to the 17th-century brick church tower, where a curator explains the process of how archaeologists find and excavate artifacts before heading to the lab.

Janene Johnston, Associate Curator, inside the Church Tower at the Inside the Vault tour. (Stephanie Sabin/WYDaily)

Walking into the lab and office spaces, Janene Johnston, Associate Curator, who led the tour on the day WYDaily attended, stated we would be following the path each artifact found on the island takes from collection in the field to examination, cleaning, cataloging and eventually into the vault.

Once in the lab, visitors have the opportunity to see conservation and collections projects in progress.

Janene Johnston explains the process artifacts go through once they arrive at the lab. (Stephanie Sabin/WYDaily)

“The main activity that happens in this lab is washing and sorting artifacts. We work with a very active volunteer team who helps us with this process,” explained Johnston when the group first arrived at the lab.

Delft tiles awaiting cleaning in the lab at Historic Jamestowne. (Stephanie Sabin/WYDaily)

One project being worked on this summer is cleaning and preservation of Delft tiles. The current tour addressed this process and allowed guests to view the project.

Dan Gamble, Senior Conservator, shows how metals are handled in the lab. (Stephanie Sabin/WYDaily)

Each team member explained their areas of expertise and specialties along with answering questions and giving examples of projects.

Dan Gamble, Senior Conservator, shows how metals are handled in the lab. (Stephanie Sabin/WYDaily)

“Our main goal, as conservators is to stabilize the elements and artifacts that come in from the field. Artifacts, like ceramics, do not need stabilization they are fine how they are but iron, organics, copper, lead and various other materials need to be stabilized and taken care of so they don’t deteriorate and disintegrate,” stated Dan Gamble, Senior Conservator.

Lindsay Bliss, Collections Intern sorts organic material. (Stephanie Sabin/WYDaily)

Moving into the vault, where the collections are stored, a large assortment of items are on display, and the group was met by Senior Curator Leah Stricker.

Senior Curator Leah Stricker discusses artifacts in the vault. (Stephanie Sabin/WYDaily)

The most secure room in the building, this space houses all the artifacts from Jamestowne’s collection that are not on display in the museum or out on loan.

“There are four million artifacts, estimated, to be in the collection,” stated Strickler.

Deflt tiles. (Stephanie Sabin/WYDaily)

The format remains consistent but each individual tour varies based on projects the group are currently working on.

Harley Kaplan, a recent tour guest from Plymouth, Massachusetts said, “It is very informative, and if you are into archeology or history, this is a wonderful thing to do. And, the people here are so informative and knowledgeable, it is impressive.”

The Inside the Vault Tour takes place on select Wednesdays at 2 p.m. and lasts approximately 90 minutes. It is recommended for ages 16 and up. The ticket does not include admission to Historic Jamestowne.

To learn more, visit Jamestown Rediscovery.

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