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Grant number: PF-50449-14

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Historical Society of Seattle and King County (Seattle, WA 98109-4330)
Betsy Bruemmer (Project Director: December 2013 to present)

Analysis of Mechanical Systems and Building Envelope of the MOHAI Resource Center

The analysis of collection storage spaces and environmental conditions at Seattle's Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), which houses diverse collections of archival and audiovisual materials and artifacts that treat the history of Seattle and the surrounding region. To improve care for these collections, the applicant would gather information about the museum's storage spaces and assemble an expert team to suggest sustainable improvements for storage and accessibility of the collections. A white paper would foster greater understanding of the preservation challenges facing cultural heritage institutions in the Pacific Northwest.

After moving into a renovated former granite warehouse, MOHAI is struggling to achieve a sustainable and appropriate preservation environment for its artifact and library collections. With NEH support, we wish to work with the Image Permanence Institute (IPI) of Rochester, NY to develop a better understanding of our mechanical systems and the effects of the building envelope on this system in a Pacific Northwest marine environment. We would also like to utilize IPI's expertise in materials science and deterioration to review the temperature and relative humidity specifications for our collections. Consultations with experts in building construction, mechanical engineering and HVAC systems have resulted in a variety of theories about this problem, from ground moisture seeping up though the concrete floors, to infiltration of outside air into the building, to inadequate mechanical equipment. A variety of solutions have been proposed, the source of the problem, however, remains a mystery.

[White paper]

Project fields:
Cultural History; U.S. History; Urban History

Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections

Preservation and Access

Total amounts:
$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2014 – 11/30/2016