Preservation Projects

Every year Congress appropriates funds to the National Park Service to conduct conservation work on museum collections. On behalf of the five parks it serves, the South Florida Collections Management Center (SFCMC) submits conservation projects to the national review process each year, usually for funds two years from submission. The SFCMC also receives conservation project funds from fees paid by visitors and others who use our national parks. Recreation fees paid by visitors at the entrance station or campgrounds, and proceeds from concession contracts--such as with airboat operators, the seaplane concessioner at Dry Tortugas National Park, and the ferry operator to Fort Jefferson--are all potential sources of funds for us to complete museum and archives projects that provide access to our collections to the worldwide public. Our hope is that in the next several years much more of our collections will be accessible on this web site or through partner websites.

Once funds are received, the SFCMC archivist and museum curator manage contracts with vendors and agreements with cooperators. Little of the work is done here at the SFCMC. Projects can take as long as two years or more to finish, depending on the condition of the objects, the conservation treatment required, and the logistics of packing and sending materials to conservators across the country.

Projects recently completed or nearing completion with funds provided in fiscal year 2017 include:

  • The fourth year of an ongoing project to conserve cellulose acetate photographic negatives from the parks' archives. In photographic film, cellulose acetate replaced nitrate film in the mid-1900s, being far less flammable and cheaper to produce. However, cellulose acetate negatives are subject to deterioration, which is often indicated by a distinct vinegar odor. In more severe cases, bubbles or crystals may appear on the negative. In the latest part of this preservation project, Chicago Albumen Works digitized and duplicated 275 acetate negatives.

Construction of the parrott gun at Fort Jefferson.
Lifting the Parrott gun onto a mount at Fort Jefferson

Photo courtesy Tuckerbrook Conservation

  • Tuckerbrook Conservation finished lifting the remaining three Parrott guns on the terreplein (top) level of Fort Jefferson onto mounts so that the conserved cannons are no longer sitting on blocks just off the ground. In earlier phases of this project, Tuckerbrook Conservation oversaw the construction and installation of reproduction carriages for a Rodman gun and a Parrott gun at Fort Jefferson. Dry Tortugas National Park is now developing a long-range cannon conservation plan to monitor and treat, as needed, the cannons at Fort Jefferson.


Learn more about the preservation treatment of the cannons at Dry Tortugas National Park.

  • An example of conservation work that is completed within the National Park Service--but not by SFCMC staff--is the recent scanning of 1881 oversized land tract maps from Big Cypress National Preserve. The NPS Technical Information Center (TIC) in Denver completed this work. Now the digital files are available to researchers and park staff through the TIC public portal.
Biscayne river at Biscayne National Park
Biscayne River at Biscayne National Park

NPS Photo

  • Several years in, a project to digitize and make accessible photographs, slides, and documents in the Biscayne, Dry Tortugas, and Everglades National Parks archive is starting to show results to the public. Through a cooperative agreement with Clemson University, the NPS is able to display archival material to the public through the Open Parks Network. Follow the link to explore images from the three parks.

Last updated: November 13, 2019