In 2002, the Missions Initiative was established at the University of Arizona to guide the development of an international, multidisciplinary partnership for cultural resource management of hundreds of Spanish Colonial mission sites and communities in the southwestern United States, and northern Mexico. Representatives from the United States National Park Service (NPS) and the Mexico Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) are collaborating to protect cultural resources and promote heritage tourism through the re-establishment of historic links among Spanish Colonial missions.

Ongoing Missions Initiative projects include:

  • TICRAT Adobe Workshops. Biennial hands-on workshops known as TICRATs (Taller Internacional de Conservación y Restauración de Arquitectura de Tierra), bring Mexican and American master craftsmen together at mission sites to learn skills in building assessment and stabilization, adobe brick-making, and lime plaster preparation/application. The long-term goal is the training of the next generation of preservation specialists while addressing critical conservation issues of the region's mission sites. To that end, the bilingual Missions Initiative website contains many of these workshops as training videos.
  • Spanish Colonial Documents Meta-database. Developing a single-portal, comprehensive "meta" database integrating mission-related documents and records from national parks, academic institutions, and other archive repositories. The goal is to combine retrievable information located in disparate archives throughout the world with mission sites using geo-referencing tools to enhance research capacity in the digital age.
  • Preservation Best Practices. Developing a bi-lingual, web-based compendium of case studies of selected mission sites based on a set of criteria ranging from technical tools to interpretive policies, and financial support strategies to site management models. The goal is to address the current lack of shared comprehensive knowledge in the area of Spanish Colonial mission preservation and cultural resource management for heritage professionals of all disciplines.

For more information, visit the Missions Initiative website, www.missions.arizona.edu.

Date: 2002-current
Location: Mission sites in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico
Client: National Park Service
Project Type: Research, workshops
Project Source/Funding: National Park Service
Drachman Institute Team:

R. Brooks Jeffery
Susan Bartlett
Allison Kennedy

Drachman Institute Program: Heritage Conservation