Utah's historic artifacts at risk from water, sewage pipes

Utah's historic artifacts at risk (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) - Utah’s collection of about 30,000 historic items, valued at around 90 million dollars are stored in a facility that is in no way, designed to house them.

Doug Misner, the Library and Collections manager with the Division of State History, is concerned that tens of thousands of artifacts, stored in a space below the Rio Grande building downtown, are at risk.

First, the building is not earthquake proof, and when and if the big one comes, the state’s collection of historic photographs, clothing, and relics would almost certainly be destroyed, “if we were to have an earthquake the building would have significant damage,” says Misner.

Misner is also concerned with the labyrinth of sewer, steam and water pipes that run through and around all of these historic items.

There have been significant leaks over the past including one last May, that almost damaged several things.

Misner says in addition to restoring and cataloging historic items, his staff is also trained in disaster clean up in case a water pipes leak.

Also of concern, the building is not climate controlled, that means that items that are fragile, may denigrate at a quicker pace, “it does keep us up at night, it gives us cold sweats, grey hair, hypertension,” says Misner.

Yesterday the Utah Dept. of Heritage and Arts went before a legislative committed to tell lawmakers about the potential issues. Although legislators are not allocating any money to build a new building, the department says they need about 18 million dollars to build a facility that is safe and designed for their needs.

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