Removing Graffiti: A Panel Discussion

Join a panel of preservation professionals including scientists and conservators from the US National Park Service for a best practices program on removing paint and indelible markings.
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1.5 AIA Health/Safety/Learning Units

First: do no harm is an underlying concept in historic preservation. Unfortunately, vandalism happens. Architects and other preservation professionals need to know how to safely remove graffiti without causing more harm to buildings and monuments or people involved in the removal process.


Rachel Adler is the architectural conservator for the National Park Service Vanishing Treasures Program, which focuses on preservation in the Western US through the perpetuation of traditional building skills and promoting connections between cultural groups and places of their heritage. Rachel has an M.S. in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania and specializes in earthen architecture.

Jason Church is a conservator and the Chief of Technical Services at the NPS National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) from now on. Jason specializes in historic masonry, metal work, and cemeteries. He is a Professional Associate of the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works and the current conservation chair of the Association for Gravestone Studies.

Lindy Gulick is the Architectural Conservator and Supervisor of the Preservation Crew at the National Mall and Memorial Parks, which we refer to as NAMA. Prior to joining NAMA, she was the Architectural Conservator for the National Capital Area from 2016-2019 and worked for six years for Evergreene Architectural Arts (formerly Conservation Solutions, Inc). She is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation.

Mary F. Striegel is a conservation scientist and Chief of Materials Conservation with NPS National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT). Mary has 32 years’ experience studying cultural resources. She specializes in how materials decay and treatments to preserve cultural heritage. She holds a Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis.

Sarah Polzin is training manager at the Historic Preservation Training Center in Frederick, Maryland, which provides building preservation services and training to National Parks and other federal and state government agencies around the country. She started working there as an intern 20 years ago and has served in multiple roles including grunt labor, project management, and supervisor. She has recently become adept at virtual training.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Recognize how different kinds of paints and pigments applied to different kinds of substrate can affect the removal process.
  • Compare and contrast methods and techniques for removal based on the type of graffiti and substrate.
  • Document the vandalism adequately for reporting and potential historic significance.
  • Recognize when they need to get assistance with removal and who to contact.
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Thanks to the National Park Service for presenting this evergreen topic.