The Megarika Project
was launched in 2002 to preserve and conserve the irreplaceable documentation of excavations that date back to 1827. The project was initially developed by former ICA staff member Glenn Mack and NPTC librarian Lucy Grinenko, who continues to direct it. The first phase of this project started in 2000 by supplying internet access, installing a handful of computers, and providing substantial training for the museum staff. The second stage (2001-2004) created digital copies of the rarest and most accessed items from the Archives and Library. These items were then cleaned and re-housed in non-acidic envelopes, boxes, or folders. The color scanning and photographing of the museum's most rare and fragile items from the 19th century up until 1917 is almost complete. The Megarika Project
has already made a unique and indispensable contribution to the protection of the history and results of archaeology at Chersonesos over the past 170 years.
The on-site team currently consists of six people, including a librarian, head archivist, and four computer specialists who scan these precious documents, which in most cases exist as only one copy. In the past, these documents have been stored on the first floor of the main administration building in far from ideal conditions for preservation, not to mention the high risk of fire. Now over 175 excavation reports have been scanned into almost 10,000 separate computer files, and over 100 large excavation plans have also been digitized. Moreover, nineteenth century archival material of the museum's founder, Kostyushko-Valuzhinich, has been added to the database, as have four years of field reports (1973-1976). As of 2005, the immediate goals of the Megarika Project are to complete the scanning and care of all original museum records, photographs, and plans; to develop comprehensive digital databases for the objects and data housed at and produced by the Preserve; and to make those data available in an easy-to-use and locally sustainable form to researchers at the NPTC. In the longer term, an equally important goal of the project is to make some or all of this information available online for researchers all over the world.
The project's work is in keeping with the current goals of the Ukrainian government itself. The Ukrainian Ministry of Culture issued a decree in 2003 about the digitization of museum archives and library holdings, yet Chersonesos was already a national leader in this area. In October of 2004, after her presentation of the Megarika Project to a national audience at a Kiev conservation conference, Lucy Grinenko, Preserve Librarian, was invited by the Ministry of Culture to be on the planning committee for the electronic standardization of all national museums in Ukraine. This recognition reinforces the truly forward-thinking approach of the Megarika Project and the competency of the team that has brought the model to fruition. Furthermore, in 2005, the project began a collaboration with the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas in order to develop collections-care and preservation strategies for its rare and fragile documents. The HRC is an international leader in conservation and preservation of the visual arts. The HRC Conservation Department supports the training and education of future conservators by encouraging students from The University of Texas Preservation and Conservation Studies (PCS) program to work on projects at the HRC. PCS students have worked with the Megarika Project over the course of several summer seasons in Chersonesos. The combined efforts of ICA, HRC, and PCS have substantial ramifications for improving paper and book conservation in Ukraine, and the collaboration will be important not only for the preservation of irreplaceable information but also for the exchange of ideas, experience, and knowledge.