Navy Artifacts Getting New Home

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From Naval History and Heritage Command Communication and Outreach Division RICHMOND, Va. (NNS) — The Navy announced the planned consolidation of its historic artifacts from multiple locations into a tailored facility located
in Richmond, Va. 

Naval artifacts are currently housed in separate facilities in Washington
D.C., Springfield, Va., Cheatham Annex, Va. and Memphis, Tenn. The entire process of consolidation, which includes a partial refurbishment of the Richmond facility to adequately meet storage condition standards, is projected to take approximately 18 months.

“This move represents a generational leap forward for the conservation, preservation, management and ultimately care of our most prized Navy holdings,” said Captain Henry Hendrix, Ph.D., the director of the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC). “We’ve been both amazed by and grateful for our partners at DLA (Defense Logistics Agency) for their alacrity, enthusiasm and determination.” 

NHHC currently holds more than 300,000 artifacts in its collection dating back to the founding of the Republic.

“We’re glad to help safeguard these invaluable possessions by finding  a single facility. It removes the inherent inefficiencies of having them scattered in various locations – and the best part is with the necessary storage modifications it’ll mean significant improvements for the artifacts,” said Vice Adm. Mark Harnitchek, director of the Defense Logistics Agency, who was central in arranging for the consolidation. 

“We’ve been working hard for a few years now to more efficiently manage the vast and in some cases fragile holdings, and having them scattered around the country was both expensive and problematic. Truthfully, the existing storage conditions weren’t anything to write home about either. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but this is a quantum leap forward,” said Dr. Jay Thomas, the assistant director for NHHC for the collections management division. 

The consolidation now allows the Navy to centrally locate all of the artifacts, which will translate to improved care, management, accountability and oversight of the collection. The building in Richmond will ensure improved environmental controls for high risk artifacts, proper shelving and storage, an area for conserving and preserving the artifacts. The facility will provide the infrastructure for staff to continue and complete the on-going 100% artifact inventory effort currently underway.

This vast undertaking will demand the entire collection team to focus its time and energy on the move.  In the near term, the Navy’s Curator Branch will continue to service existing artifact loans, currently numbering in excess of 1,500. The curators will suspend processing requests for new artifact loans as they tackle the project, which will require significant travel in support of preparing and managing the shipment of the vast holdings. Their ability to accept new donations and respond to inquiries will also be slowed. 

We have literally tons of material, some of which is priceless, and nearly all of it irreplaceable. But the work is well worth it if it means in the long run our Sailors and our citizens can better appreciate what the Navy has meant to our country since its inception,” said head curator, Karen France. 

The Naval History and Heritage Command, located at the Washington Navy Yard, is responsible for the preservation, analysis, and dissemination of U.S. naval history and heritage. It provides the knowledge foundation for the Navy by maintaining historically relevant resources and products that reflect the Navy’s unique and enduring contributions through our nation’s history, and supports the Fleet by assisting with and delivering professional research, analysis, and interpretive services. 

NHHC is composed of many activities including the Navy Department Library, the Navy Operational Archives, the Navy art and artifact collections, underwater archeology, Navy histories, nine museums, USS Constitution repair facility and the historic ship Nautilus.

Story Number: NNS140612-18; Release Date: 6/12/2014 9:31:00 PM

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