Best Practices for Archaeological Collections: A Cultural Resource Management Perspective

Ontario Archaeological Society Symposium, 2017
Caitlin Coleman

As a large archaeological and cultural heritage consulting firm in Ontario, ASI has unique curatorial and collections issues that are distinct from those of government funded or non-profit enterprises. We work on the “front line” of collection creation in our province, putting us in an ideal position to develop and implement new best practices for artifact care. I will provide two case studies of successful collections management projects we have undertaken; one in which best practices were in place from the beginning, and a second where they were used to rehabilitate a legacy collection. First, I will discuss a large scale energy project where we built into the original budget the cost of housing artifacts at Sustainable Archaeology. Involving clients in final curatorial decisions is an ideal, yet rare, situation in consulting work. Secondly, I will discuss a large scale pro-bono project we have undertaken in collaboration with the OAS to reorganize, rebox, and document Charlie Garrad’s significant collection of Tionontati (Petun) artifacts. These two examples show how consulting archaeology can work hand in hand with clients, researchers, avocational archaeologists, and community organizations to best care for our collections.