The act of moving USS Monitor artifacts during conservation or onto exhibit at The Mariners’ Museum often isn’t very simple. Factors like an artifact’s size, weight, fragility, and material composition must be considered before any move occurs in order to avoid damaging these precious artifacts. Minimizing movement during treatment and exhibition is critical to the overall health and long-term survivability of fragile artifacts. Often times the Monitor Conservation team spends days or even weeks planning and prepping for a move that may take no more than a few seconds or minutes. Better safe than sorry!
We use a variety of gear and equipment including overhead cranes, lifting straps and cables, shackles, chain hoists, lifting platforms, come-a-longs, pneumatic tires, dollies, forklifts, and good old-fashioned sweat and elbow grease. But sometimes even the best equipment and planning is no match for 140-years of exposure to a corrosive ocean environment. As a result, many of these treasured artifacts from USS Monitor are too unstable after deconcretion and conservation to move out of the exhibit.
There are very few facilities in the world that have developed an expertise in moving and conserving extremely large and fragile archaeological materials. The Mariners’ Museum is fortunate to be a leader in this field. Here are a few pictures of our efforts to move large, heavy, and complex artifacts recovered from the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary.