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It was not until the opening of the UN-patrolled Green Line on Cyprus in 2003 that research and study of the Kyrenia shipwreck collection could begin in earnest again. Indeed, that research is nearing completion and the final report on the collection is expected soon. This renewed activity, however, revealed unexpected problems. The conservation and exhibition of the collection had been completed by 1975, yet the absence of properly-trained curators and conservators maintaining the collection means that the glues once used to assemble amphorae are dissolving, salts are weeping out of lead artifacts, and bronze artifacts are afflicted with bronze disease. The re-assembled hull of the ship, moreover, is threatened by the medieval gallery converted into its exhibition hall. A worn waterproofing membrane on the roof, as well as the gradual subsidence of adjacent walls, means that rainwater seeps through cracks into the limestones and mortar comprising the roof and, over time, gradually creates dust and grit that falls on the hull below. Approximately half a kilogram of particulates fell on the hull over six months in 2010, for example. The roof over the hull, as a result, is disaggregating piece by piece; soon larger fragments may fall and cause irreparable damage.
The Kyrenia Shipwreck Collection Restoration Program began in 2010 to address these problems, and to reestablish the unique role that the collection has on Cyprus. The program has two goals:

1. Enhancing the maintenance, display, and curation of the 4th-century BC shipwreck excavated near Kyrenia, Cyprus, so that the ship may continue to represent Cyprus to the world and continue to prompt further groundbreaking research in maritime archaeology;

2. Integrating the maintenance and use of this collection into the Cypriot community so that it, much as the original project did over four decades ago, becomes a catalyst building the community’s knowledge, skills and wisdom regarding the protection, study and importance of the island’s cultural heritage.

We hope to achieve these goals in a variety of ways, based upon the priorities emerging from our assessments of the collection and the surrounding infrastructure. The most immediate structural interventions include the following:

• The replacement and stabilization of the roof over the re-assembled hull;
• Sealing and pointing the masonry of the ship hall;
• Replacing the wooden wall at one end of the ship hall with insulated plaster walls compatible with the surrounding historic and aesthetic values of the site;
• The addition of solar panels on the roof to support the climate control system in the exhibit spaces;

Additional interior interventions include:

• The removal and proper disposal of the Dowicide A currently in the storeroom;
• Sealing, consolidation and stabilization of the interior masonry;
• The isolation of the hull from the floor with dampeners to protect the wreck from earthquakes;
• New climate controls and an electrical system in the exhibit and storeroom, with dataloggers to record humidity, temperature and vibrations;
• A new exhibit.

A proper revitalization of the collection, however, involves much more. The present exhibit not only needs to be updated to include modern multi-media, interactive displays, and the story of the excavation itself, it also needs to be re-fashioned to include the majority of the artifacts on display and to better use the allocated space. Revitalization, however, involves more than the technical processes of stabilizing artifacts and creating a new exhibit - revitalization involves the community as well and enhancing their capacity to care for this collection, and other examples of maritime heritage around Cyprus, in the future. Efforts are underway to implement educational and outreach programs, as well as training initiatives to build skills, knowledge and wisdom.

© 2012 Matthew Harpster