A Future for Vasa

Reference number
Coordinator Statens maritima museer - Vasamuseet
Funding from Vinnova SEK 2 000 000
Project duration July 2008 - June 2011
Status Completed

Purpose and goal

The ultimate goal of the project is to develop secure methods of preservation of the warship Vasa, based on novel research results in co-operation with research departments, and to apply the results achieved also on other maritime archaeological finds. As subgoals we will: 1. further develop basic knowledge on marine archaeological wood, 2. understand and if possible stop the decay processes occurring in Vasa wood, 3. elucidate the time dependence of these processes, 4. clarify the relationships between the chemical status of the wood and its physical-mechanical properties, and 5. elucidate the effects of PEG conservation on the long-term mechanical properties of the wood. 6. apply the research results to new methods for practical conservation and preservation work, 7. elucidate the consequences of re-conservation measures compared to the effects on the materials if no such actions are taken, and 8. on the basis of the research results, investigate the possibilities of future non-destructive monitoring of the ship and loose objects, thus eliminating the need for continued large-scale sampling.

Expected results and effects

We expect the following impact and results from the project: 1. To understand if and how wood degradation processes and degradation of PEG (the wood conservation agent) are catalysed by iron compounds, and elucidate how these processes depend on access to atmospheric oxygen and humidity. 2. Futher quantification of observed processes and their time dependence, and elucidation of their influence on the wood mechanical properties. 3. Development of strategies/methods to stop or slow down eventual on-going processes, and to seek new conservation methods based on recent research. 4. Improved planning situtation regarding the design of a new support structure for the ship, as the mechanical properties of the wood will be an increasingly important parameter in the design of a future structure.

Planned approach and implementation

The project is planned for a period of three years. Subprojects with well-defined goals within the research fields described above will be carried out as contracted projects based on submitted and negotiated research plans. Subprojects will have a duration of a few months up to ca. one year. SMMs general regulations for reports and publication policy will be followed. The project will be led by a steering group consisting of the director of the Cultural Environmental Department, doc Björn Varenius, the scientific co-ordinator, professor Lars Ivar Elding and the head of the Vasa unit at SMM, Magnus Olofsson. The project will be quality controlled by an international reference group of external specialists with high competence in the field, linked to the steering group. SMM will report scientific progress and financial situation twice a year to the sponsors. Within SMM, the project will be continuously followed by the Conservation Council of the Vasa Museum chaired by the General Director. The work will be followed up by seminars, meetings with the sub-project leaders, and workshops twice a year in the presence of external specialists.

The project description has been provided by the project members themselves and the text has not been looked at by our editors.

Last updated 25 November 2019

Reference number 2008-03901

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