West Virginia Division of Culture and History

Managing the Past as a Site Manager in West Virginia

I’m David Rotenizer, site manager for the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex (GCMAC) in Moundsville, West Virginia.  This facility is situated in the northern panhandle of West Virginia, half way between Pittsburgh, PA and Columbus, OH.  I have held the position just shy of four years.  Archaeology has been important to me for most of my life since as least middle school, so we are looking at nearly four decades.  I am passionate about archaeology and its contributions and value to society.

GCMAC is a seven acre archaeological park featuring the Grave Creek Mound.  We are a historic site operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.  It is called a complex because we consist of three separate, but related components:  mound, museum, and research facility.  The Grave Creek Mound is one of the largest known conical earthen burial mounds associated with the Adena culture and has been dated to around 250 – 150 BCE.  The mound was saved from destruction by concerned citizens and elected officials when it became a state property in 1909.

Aside from the large earthen mound, a focal point here is the Delf Norona Museum.  This Brutalist architecture styled facility opened in 1978 and consists of 25,646 square feet.  It features various exhibit galleries, an auditorium (currently being renovated), an activity room for educational programs, and a gift shop.  Outside on the grounds is one of our newest “exhibits” – an interpretive garden.

Adjoining the museum is a 9,600 square foot addition completed in 2008 that houses the West Virginia Archaeological Research and Collections Management Facility.  This state-of-the-art wing serves as West Virginia’s first official repository for archaeological collections.

We are open five days a week (Tue – Sat) and currently have a staff of five full time employees and are blessed with regular and occasional volunteers.  Some of our volunteers come to us through RSVP (Retired Seniors Volunteer Program).  We also work with volunteer student interns.  The past two years, we have been the host site for community service learning volunteers from the Native American Studies Program at West Virginia University, which was supported by a West Virginia Humanities Council grant last month.

From a day-in-the-life perspective, I can truly state that no two days are the same!  Rather than write out what happened during the Day of Archaeology 2013, I thought I might take a different approach.   For the past two days, I walked around the complex with my camera to document a Day of Archaeology at the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex.

Grave Creek Mound as viewed from the roof of the Delf Norona Museum.

Grave Creek Mound as viewed from the roof of the Delf Norona Museum.

 

View of Grave Creek Mound from within the Delf Norona Museum.

View of Grave Creek Mound from within the Delf Norona Museum.

 

View within gallery of the Delf Norona Museum.

View within gallery of the Delf Norona Museum.

 

Accountant /Gift Shop Manager holding replica Adena pipe that is available for sale in gift shop.

Accountant /Gift Shop Manager holding replica Adena pipe that is available for sale in gift shop.

Maintenance Supervisor must constantly observe climate controls for museum and research center to maintain acceptable temperature and humidity levels.  Collections management program follows 36 CFR Part 79 - the federal curation guidelines.

Maintenance Supervisor must constantly observe climate controls for museum and research center to maintain acceptable temperature and humidity levels. Collections management program follows 36 CFR Part 79 – the federal curation guidelines.

 

View toward Interpretive Garden with museum in background to right.

View toward Interpretive Garden with museum in background to right.

 

Curators moving boxes from old collections.  Eventulay these will be rehoused into archival standard containers.

Curators moving boxes from old collections. Eventually these will be rehoused into archival standard containers

 

Ohio University - Eastern Campus Intern vewing microfilm for early historic references to the Grave Creek Mound.  Volunteers and interns are provided with a variety of learning opportunities.

Ohio University – Eastern Campus Intern viewing microfilm for early historic references to the Grave Creek Mound. Volunteers and interns are provided with a variety of learning opportunities.

During the evening before Day of Archaeology, we hosted an installment of the 2013 Lecture & Film Series.  This month we had 28 in attendance.  The series is into its fourth year.

During the evening before Day of Archaeology, we hosted an installment of the 2013 Lecture & Film Series. This month we had 28 in attendance. The series is into its fourth year.

 

View of archaeological lab from the public oberservation room.  Image taken one month prior.

View of archaeological lab from the public observation room. Image taken one month prior.

Recently labeled and processed Native American ceramic sherds.  The facility has large backlog of old collections requiring rehousing that will processing.

Recently labeled and processed Native American ceramic sherds. The facility has large backlog of old collections with materials requiring various levels of processing such as labeling and rehousing to archival standards.

 

During the day, our intern from Ohio University - Eastern Campus was viewing microfilm at the Moundsville Public Library for historic references to the mound.  I stopped by to check on intern.  I could not help but take note of the front door to library....upper right is a flyer for upcoming presentation to summer reading program by our facility educator.  At bottom of door is large poster for current national summer reading program "I Dig Reading."  This all helped give special meaning to the day.

During the day, our intern from Ohio University – Eastern Campus was viewing microfilm at the Moundsville Public Library for historic references to the mound. When I stopped by to check on him, I could not help but observe the front door to library – at upper right was a flyer for upcoming presentation to summer reading program by our facility’s educator. At bottom of door was large poster for the national summer reading program “Dig into Reading.” This all helped give special meaning to the day.

Program Educator standing next to the Interpretive Garden.  This is the fourth year she has maintained the "living exhibit."

Program Educator standing next to the Interpretive Garden. This is the fourth year she has maintained the “living exhibit.”

 

On Day of Archaeology, contractors completed installation of new pipeline in auditorium that is undergoing renovation.  The excavated trench had to be refilled with cement.

On Day of Archaeology, contractors completed installation of new pipeline in auditorium that is undergoing renovation. The excavated trench had to be refilled with cement.

 

Example of items for sale in the gift shop.

Example of items for sale in the gift shop.

For a very brief period, visitors to the complex were witness to an emergency scene.  Someone walking down the street had experienced a seizure.  They were later ok.  Never a dull moment.

For a very brief period, visitors to the complex were witness to an emergency scene. Someone walking down the street had experienced a seizure, but they were later determined to be ok. Never a dull moment!

 

At the end of the day on the Day of Archaeology, the bottom line for most of us is simply making our finds and discoveries available for future generations.  Shown here are boxes of artifacts in the collections storage area – Grave Creek has 51 shelving units (each about 8m/26 ft long).

At the end of the day on the Day of Archaeology, the bottom line for most of us is simply making our finds and discoveries available for future generations. Shown here are boxes of artifacts in the collections storage area – Grave Creek has 51 shelving units (each about 8m/26 ft long).

 

A Day in the Life of a Historic Site/Museum/Research Facility Manager in West Virginia

My name is David Rotenizer and I am the site manager of the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex (GCMAC) in Moundsville, West Virginia. I have held the position for one month shy of three years.  Archaeology has been an important part of my life since 1978, though mostly in the field.  My current position is particularly important to me because it helps with what I feel to be one of the field’s most important functions – to share the fruits of archaeology with the public.  Before proceeding with my day in the life perspective, I need to present a little background on where I work.

GCMAC is a seven acre archaeological park featuring the Grave Creek Mound.  We are a historic site operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.  It is called a complex because we consist of three separate, but related components:  mound, museum, and research facility.  The Grave Creek Mound is one of the largest known conical earthen burial mounds associated with the Adena culture and has been dated to around 250 – 150 BCE.

Interpretive Garden at Base of Grave Creek Mound

The Delf Norona Museum is a modern 25,646 square foot facility that opened in 1978.  It features various exhibit galleries, a 136-seat auditorium, an activity room for educational programs, and a gift shop.  Outside on the grounds is one of our newest “exhibits” – an interpretive garden.

A gallery area within museum.

 

Diaorama witin gallery depicting Grave Creek Mound.

 

 

Detail of Timeline within Gallery.

 

View of the Grave Creek Mound from Museum.

View toward portion of gift shop.

In 2008, a new state-of-the-art wing opened which houses the West Virginia Archaeological Research and Collections Management Facility.  The 9,600 square foot addition serves as West Virginia’s first official repository for the state’s archaeological collections.

Observation Window looking into Archaeological Lab.

Portion of one of 51 shelving units at facility – each about 8m (26 ft)long.

Portion of the Research Library and Archives.

We are open seven days a week, but to the public for six.  We currently have a staff of five full time employees and are blessed to be supported by a small group of dedicated regular volunteers.

My day actually began the evening before when we hosted our monthly lecture and film series program.  June always features a presentation and tour of the interpretive garden.  A typical day usually starts out with ensuring the facility is ready to be visited by the public starting at 9 a.m.  You want to make sure the lights are on, doors unlocked, restrooms are acceptable, trash emptied and if need be the glass doors and display cases cleaned and to check floors that may need to be swept or vacuumed.  The cash register in the gift shop is made ready and items stocked if needed.  Due to our limited staff everyone must wear different hats to keep the facility operational. We all help each other.

Throughout the day, I spend a lot of time on the computer checking and responding to e-mails, and on phone calls.  During the day I also check with the different staff members to keep abreast of what they are working on and to provide whatever support they might need.  Today I spent time working on submitted bids for annual maintenance of the mound and preparing supply orders, and reviewing gift shop inventory, to be ready when the new fiscal year starts on 1 July.  I was in communication with the Native American Studies Program at West Virginia University which will be bringing a class of volunteers to assist us in the lab in a few weeks – lots of last minute details to finalize.   A team from state technology services was here to help with the installation of a server to back up the records and files of the research facility.  I was in contact with the agency’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) education and planning coordinator to discuss ideas for West Virginia Archaeology Month held in October.  In August the street in front of the facility will be closed for several days due to a Veteran’s Wall project and I needed to respond to a request that had come in for use of our property to host a first-aid tent.

During the day I helped to greet visitors who arrive, and provide a brief orientation for them.  It is always interesting to meet folks and learn where they are from – amazingly from all over the U.S. and lately Canada and Germany.  It is equally interesting to listen to their questions and their experiences and perceptions of archaeology. Time was spent running the cash register in the gift shop.  Archaeological publications and gemstones/minerals are our best sellers. When I restocked the brochure rack I noticed we were almost out of our Cahokia Mounds brochure and called there to order more.  I had to make a daily run to the post office to deliver and pick up our mail as well as make trip to the bank to deposit funds from gift shop sales and fee-based educational programs. I walked the property to ensure everything was in good order.  The men’s public restroom had to be briefly closed while I gave it a special cleaning.  An artifact was brought to my attention for interpretation.

At the end of the day I close out the cash register and prepare a daily revenue report and then we go through the process of closing and securing the facility.  Like all of the positions here, no two days are the same.  It is always a matter of multi-tasking and dealing with the issues at hand.  All the same, we are part of the global archaeological community doing our part to interpret, preserve, and protect the past for present and future generations.