MANAGING CHANGE: THE ROLE OF DOCUMENTATION AND CONDITION SURVEY AT MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK
FRANK G. MATERO
1. Documentation is addressed in most international and national conservation charters. See, for example, Article 16 of The International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites (The Venice Charter) (UNESCO) and Articles 24–28 on Documentation and their Commentaries of the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. Documentation and recordation can be further defined whereby documentation refers to the compilation of all written, graphic, and photographic information, past and present, and recordation as specifically the processes of describing, through written, graphic, and photographic means, the present configuration and condition of cultural property.
2. By “standard” I mean a reference point. In the case of conditions classification systems, a standard implies developing a consensus among professionals on both the general meaning of specific conditions terminology and an agreed-upon order to that system and its graphic representation. Standard terminology is common in other scientific disciplines, such as geology and cartography, and allows for better communication among professionals. Standards and standardization do not and should not attempt to restrict definitions or fix specific conditions with specific causes.
3. At Mesa Verde, spaces were divided into “segments” to define a practical architectural unit, e.g., banquette, to which quantitative and qualitative descriptions could be assigned. In contrast, conditions were recorded on “sectors” or area units created by the superimposition of an abstract grid over the architectural surface.
4. At Mesa Verde, “plasters” are defined as discrete finish layers greater than 1 mm in thickness; “washes” are discrete colored finish layers less than 1 mm thick. This visual classification according to thickness is reinforced by consistent distinction in granulometry, suggesting an original understanding of the use, if not formulation, of plasters and washes based on observed performance characteristics.
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FRANK G. MATERO is associate professor of architecture and chair of the graduate program in historic preservation at the Graduate School of Fine Arts, and director and founder of the Architectural Conservation Laboratory and Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also a member of the Graduate Group in the Department of Art History and is research associate of the University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. He is visiting lecturer in the professional course on Architectural Conservation at the International Center for the Study of Preservation and the Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) in Rome and at the Department of Architecture, Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico. He is also a senior lecturer for Restore, New York City.
Matero's teaching and research are focused on historic building technology and the conservation of building materials, with an emphasis on masonry and earthen construction, the conservation of archaeological sites, and issues related to preservation and appropriate technology for traditional societies and places. Publications include articles in numerous professional journals, conference proceedings, book chapters and two forthcoming books on the technical history of the stone industries of North America, and a history of archaeological site preservation in the American Southwest. He has consulted on a wide range of conservation projects including the Ayyubid wall of Cairo, Drayton Hall, the Guggenheim Museum and Trinity Church in New York, the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, Ellis Island, the above-ground cemeteries of New Orleans, and the archaeological sites of Mesa Verde, Casa Grande, Bandelier, and êatalhöyük in Turkey. He is regional editor for Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites and the Journal of Architectural Conservation.
Matero is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works and former co-chair of the Research and Technical Studies Group. Address: Graduate Program in Historic Preservation, Graduate School of Fine Arts, 115 Meyerson Hall, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa. 19104