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A Sunken Spanish Galleon: Conserving Our Underwater Cultural Heritage (Conservation Matters lecture)

Date: Thursday, November 9, 2006
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Getty Center, Museum Lecture Hall
Admission: Free; reservations required.

Robert Grenier, chief of underwater archaeology at Parks Canada, discusses the multi-year project to retrieve a stunning Spanish galleon sunken off Canada's northeast coast.

From 1978 to 1985, Red Bay Harbour in Labrador was the scene of the most elaborate underwater archaeology project ever undertaken in Arctic waters. In a project involving 14,000 hours of diving, Grenier directed the underwater archaeology team of Parks Canada in the excavation of the San Juan, a Spanish whaling ship that sank off Labrador in 1565.

The team brought over 3,000 oak timbers from the wreck to the surface to be photographed and drawn, then reburied them in a systematic process that became a landmark in underwater conservation. They also developed a precise underwater molding process that enabled the creation of an exact model of the ship.

The excavation of the San Juan was such a monumental achievement that UNESCO has added the outline of the galleon to its logo for the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.

About Robert Grenier
Robert Grenier is chief of underwater archaeology at Parks Canada and president of the International Scientific Committee on Underwater Cultural Heritage, which aims to inventory, conserve, and promote interest in the world's underwater cultural heritage. Grenier has spent 40 years of his professional career under the sea. He joined Parks Canada as an underwater archaeologist in 1963 and has served as chief of this sector since 1979.

About Conservation Matters
Conservation Matters is a series of occasional lectures hosted by the Getty Conservation Institute examining conservation issues from around the world.

Diving for the San Juan and a model of the galleon

How to Get Here
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