Creating a Classroom: Earth, Preservation and Education

Anthropologists, archaeologists, architects, preservationists and engineers from around the world convened in Santa Fe in June for Terra 2022: The 13th World Congress on Earthen Architectural Heritage.

Organized by the Getty Conservation Institute, the National Park Service’s Vanishing Treasures Program and the University of Pennsylvania’s Stuart Weitzman School of Design, the four-day program featured lectures, presentations, tours and workshops. Two special workshops, “Earth as a Building Material” and “Methodology for the Development of Injection Mortars,” were co-hosted by the Office of Archaeological Studies at the Center for New Mexico Archaeology.

OAS staff and volunteers worked with Getty coordinators for nearly six months to prepare for the two-day workshops. Multiple OAS offices, laboratory spaces and outdoor areas were restructured to accommodate the needs of participants and international instructors who attended in person and via Zoom. With a bit of creativity and a brand-new smart TV, the workshops went off without a hitch.

Benjamin Marcus of the Getty Conservation Institute wrote, “Thank you for sharing your time and amazing facility....We could not have done it without all of your assistance, so many thanks to you both [director Eric Blinman and laboratory supervisor Shelby Jones, who spearheaded the reorga-nization and workshop preparations].”

But the biggest beneficiary is the OAS education program. The reorganization and cleanup for the workshops created a formal classroom area that comfortably seats over 20 adults and even more students. While education programs were previously confined to the dark and not-very-inviting OAS library, the new space is bright and airy and features activity tables and sufficient floor space for hands-on learning.

The new classroom has already been used for students from San Ildefonso Pueblo’s summer program and Hands-on-Heritage, a partnership with El Camino Real Academy. Future goals for the space include hosting ancient lifeways workshops and trainings for classroom teachers in the use of “Project Archaeology,” a Bureau of Land Management grant-sponsored curriculum. This signature OAS program uses hands-on archaeology to teach critical thinking skills and cultural preservation values.”

Donor contributions were essential to the improvements that worked so well for the Getty and that will provide lasting value for our education programs,” says OAS Director Eric Blinman. “Private support through the Friends of Archaeology allows OAS staff talent and creativity to flourish for the benefit of New Mexico.”



This article and image are from the Museum of New Mexico Foundation’s Member News Magazine Fall 2022.

Image: A student participates in a Getty Conservation Institute educational workshop co-hosted by Office of Archaeological Studies at the Center for New Mexico Archaeology. Photo courtesy OAS