Position Description: The intern will conduct a self-directed investigation into anti-graffiti coatings for outdoor weathering steel. The prevention and removal of graffiti from outdoor art and heritage is always a challenge. Removing painted graffiti from weathering steel substrates in particular requires a thoroughly considered approach. Graffiti materials such as aerosol spray paint and Sharpie marker easily penetrate the distinctive patina of weathering steel, which is more porous and rougher in profile than that of other metals commonly used in outdoor art and architecture such as stainless steel, copper alloys, or aluminum. Graffiti removal inevitably involves interference with the material continuity of the surface. Because the corrosion patina is extremely vulnerable to abrasion, the cleaning process itself can greatly disturb surface appearance.
Though preemptive anti-graffiti coatings are not currently presented as ideal treatments for weathering steel due to their conspicuous visual impact on the substrate and possible interference with patina development, occasional circumstances exist in which coatings are necessary to maintain the aesthetic qualities of this type of outdoor heritage. The lack of research into recommendable coating choices in such circumstances can contribute to undesirable alteration or even destruction of weathering steel pieces compromised by vandalism.
The proposed investigation will aim to explore the possibility of coatings as a solution to the multifaceted problem of graffiti removal from weathering steel, taking into account aesthetic and material considerations regarding the use of coatings on weathering steel for graffiti removal purposes. In so doing, it will assess whether such coatings might provide sufficient protection to treated substrates, ensuring that only a minimum of aesthetic change occurs from the graffiti removal process. An ideal conservation coating preserves the natural color, gloss, texture, and integrity of weathering steel substrates and adequately aids in the complete and safe removal of graffiti, without altering the appearance of the patina layer. The intern will carry out a literature review to inform the selection of a range of commercially available anti-graffiti coatings that may be suitable for use on weathering steel. The intern will design a research study to evaluate and compare these selected coatings using quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis. At the end of the internship, the results will be written in a free and publicly available report comparing the effectiveness and visual impact of these coatings. Through out the project the intern will post their progress on the NCPTT blog, informing the public of the ongoing research. The study is intended to assist preservationists and conservators both inside the NPS and the cultural heritage community world-wide. This research fills a current gap in caring for weathering steel outdoor heritage in graffiti-prone locations by informing those selecting the most appropriate coating for their needs.
Mentoring: The project mentor will work directly with the intern in the laboratory, training them on all required instruments and methods. The Materials Conservation program has weekly meeting to discuss research progress. Other interns will also be working along side on other projects and the opportunity for cross collaboration is encouraged.
Qualifications: The ideal candidate will be able to demonstrate their skills and experience through their resume and application and be in pursuit of, have a 4-year degree, or have graduated within the previous 2 years with a degree in historic preservation, cultural resource management, archaeology, public history, or relevant field. A passion for cultural resource management is required for this position.
- US Citizenship or Permanent Resident
- Intern must be between the ages of 18 and 35
- Intern must be a current student or recent graduate (within two years of internship end date)
- Ability to undergo a federal criminal history check
- Effective oral and written communication skills
- Precise attention to detail
- Excellent organizational skills
- Working understanding of conservation and historic preservation practices
- Experience conducting research