In 1986, the Cobb Institute Curation Laboratory was built with funding provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Mississippi State University (Figure 1). It currently holds all materials and records deriving from the Mississippi portion of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway archaeological projects undertaken during the 1970s-80s, along with other major local and regional research collections including those generated by MSU's anthropology program. This laboratory meets Federal curation standards, and can accept additional collections. At present, collections are held under formal agreements with the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Navy, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Bureau of Prisons, and the Vicksburg and Mobile Districts, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Collections are also held for a number of private entities, some of which have federal sourcing. Researchers can visit the Cobb Institute Research Collection Archive (CIRCA) webpage for information on the collections curated by the Cobb Institute.
A review of the Cobb Institute Curation Facility was conducted by the Technical Center of Expertise in Archaeological Curation and Collections Management in 1992 and reported on in 1994 (Bade and Lueck 1994). A more recent review was conducted in 1995 by R. Christopher Goodwin and Associates at the request of the Vicksburg District (Donald et al 1995). This review assigned a rating of 98.65 percent for the facility and curation procedures; the highest among the twenty facilities reviewed.
Figure 1. Cobb Institute curation building. Figure 2. Mezzanine level, collections storage area.
The repository structure was designed specifically for the purpose of curating archaeological collections. The building design consists of corrugated-metal exterior walls, a standing seam metal roof, a covered loading dock, and a poured concrete floor. It contains two front offices, a laboratory work space, restroom, shower room and a large collections storage area.
The collections storage space is divided into two levels by an upper steel-floored mezzanine. All shelving is commercial grade adjustable steel units (Figure 2). The lower level has a poured concrete floor and contains all archaeological records and many of the earlier artifact collections. The upper level stores all the maps, negatives, slides, reports and more recent artifact collections. Total shelf space in the collections area is approximately 7,000 cubic feet, which can hold approximately 6,500 standard boxes. Some space in the collections area is also used for in-process storage, photo file cabinets and supply storage. At the present time, the repository houses approximately 5,000 boxes of artifacts and records.
The curation lab/repository is environmentally controlled by two separate HVAC systems: one for the office and laboratory area and another specifically designed for the collections storage space. The closed collections storage system provides year-round temperature and humidity control. Temperature is maintained at 68 degrees F. with a relative humidity of 50 percent.
Security is provided for by burglary and fire alarm systems linked to the campus and local police and fire departments. The intrusion-detection system includes motion detectors, high-frequency breakage detectors, infrared beams and door switches. The fire alarm system consists of smoke and heat detectors in strategic locations along with flow monitors on the wet-pipe sprinkler system that protect all parts of the building. Hand-held fire extinguishers are also available throughout the building. In addition, the collections area is separated from the laboratory/office portion of the building by a two-hour firewall. Campus police respond to burglar alarms alerting collections staff who are needed to provide access into the building. Access to the facility is limited with only the Institute Director, Curator, and Collections Manager having keys and access codes. Written permission is required before anyone other than the aforementioned is given access to the collections storage room and visitors are logged in.
Bade, Mary J. and Rhonda R. Lueck.
An Archaeological Curation-Needs Assessment for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District. Submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, Technical Report No. 3. 1994
Donald, Charlotte, Jeremy Pincoske, Rick Wappenstein, and William P. Athens
The Performance of Curation and Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act-Related Management Tasks to Support Cultural Resources Management. Submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg District, Contract No. DACW38-91-D-0013. 1995