Museum of London— 2001 Conservation and Heritage Management Award

Award Citation:

The Museum of London is the 2001 recipient of the Archaeological Institute of America’s Conservation and Heritage Management Award.  This award was instituted in 1998 to recognize the exceptional achievement of an individual or an institution in the areas of archaeological conservation, conservation science, heritage management, or education and public awareness of archaeological conservation through teaching, lecturing, exhibitions, or publications.  For many years, the Museum of London has devoted considerable time, effort and resources in many of these areas and is deservedly this year’s honore

The Museum of London was formed in 1976, from the merger of the Guild Hall Museum and London Museum, through the encouragement of Sir Mortimer Wheeler.  It cares for vast archaeological collections excavated in London and is the largest and most comprehensive city museum in the world, with 14 Galleries devoted to the fascinating story of London from prehistoric times to the present.

Over the years, the Museum of London has made a strong and consistent commitment to historic and archaeological conservation, promoting conservation as a vital function of all its activities, both in the field, as in the “Save the Rose” theater project, and in the museum in its displays and installations.  The Museum has consistently emphasized the importance of conservation in its educational and public outreach efforts, perhaps most spectacularly demonstrated in its recent Spitalfields sarcophagus project (1999–2000).  By excavating, cleaning and conserving the sarcophagus, its skeleton and associated grave goods in an exhibit gallery, the Museum allowed the public to see how archaeology and conservation are done and participate in the process, demonstrating how important conservation is not only in preserving the past, but also in interpreting it.  Not surprisingly, this was one of the Museum’s all-time most popular exhibits, with lines of visitors waiting to file past the conservators at work.

Two special collections cared for by the Museum are the Greater London Archaeological Archive, which contains the objects and records from excavations in London over the past 50 years, and the Port and River Collection, which will be displayed in the new Museum in Docklands.  The Museum of London has taken a leadership role in presenting the various aspects of archaeological conservation to the public and thereby raising public awareness of the excitement and importance of saving our cultural heritage.

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