Welcome to our Workroom–please excuse the clutter

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Creativity.  Rachel wrapping a canoe with blankets and stretch wrap.
Creativity. Rachel wrapping a canoe with blankets and stretch wrap.

Today I offer a true “behind the scenes” look at our museum world. Welcome to our workroom. A small, but vital area that sometimes looks as if a tornado blew through it and other times it looks so pristine that you would swear we probably don’t do any actual work here. The ambiance of this area depends on who is using it at the time, whether we are expecting a visit from a donor or researcher, and which projects are underway.

This is the place objects moving in, out and around the museum make a stop during their journeys. Shelving and closets house new artifacts, incoming and outgoing loans, and artifacts being moved on and off display. Items we are trying to identify or research will also find a temporary home here. The length of time an object will stay in the workroom ranges from a few minutes, a few weeks, months, or as long as a year (or more), depending on what needs to be done. It could take just a few minutes to replace an identification tag that was removed before exhibition and a year to complete the extensive paperwork and processing for a donation consisting of hundreds of items.   Read more

Service and Honor

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Thomas Kevill portrait, donation from The Descendents of Thomas Kevill.
Portrait of Thomas Kevill.

A couple months ago, Captain Jim Bailie of Norfolk Fire-Rescue called us to ask about items in our collection related to Thomas Kevill.  Kevill was the first paid Fire Chief in Norfolk and a Civil War veteran who served on the CSS Virginia during the Battle of Hampton Roads March 8-9, 1862 as the officer in charge of gun #9.

Thanks to the generosity of Kevill’s descendants, we have two portraits of him, his artillery belt and buckle, a certificate of his military service and a commemorative fire badge.   Read more

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Ready to roll...
Waiting to be tied down to the truck so they don’t shift.

The Artifacts in the Park campaign rolls on and so do our anchors. Some of them recently took a ride down Jefferson Avenue to Davis Boat Works in downtown Newport News.

Thanks to a generous offer from Senator Frank Wagner, our process has changed dramatically. Wagner donated the services of his marine repair facility, Davis Boat Works. With their expertise, staff from Coastal Cleaning and a blasting process involving recycled glass media, a job that would take us months to complete by hand is now reduced to just a few days. When the cleaning is completed, each piece gets coated with an anti-corrosive product and a polyurethane finish that will protect the artifacts for at least 20 years.   Read more

Choosing One Out of Many Thousands

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How do you pick a  favorite artifact when our collection contains over 30,000 of them?   For me, it was love at first sight.   Or maybe it was awe at first glance.

When I arrived at the museum over 8 years ago, one of the first projects I worked on was a complete inventory of the collection.    I had the joy of opening all the boxes, folders, drawers, cabinets, mysterious rolled objects, and so much more.   And each time, there was something amazing, beautiful, unique, compelling, ordinary or strange to see.   Read more

"I Think We Found Bigfoot"

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Our "Bigfoot"
Our “Bigfoot”

“I think we found Bigfoot in the Chesapeake Bay Gallery”. As much fun as that would be, I knew it wasn’t true. But after hearing this comment from a coworker, I still went running out to the gallery with a camera. And I found this…a big, hairy looking beast, but one made from a large pile of fiber optic cables that were once part of the interactive displays. Our “Bigfoot” is another sign that the deinstallation of the gallery is progressing nicely.

Right now the room is a mess of sawdust and chunks of plaster where the walls are coming down. As soon as an area is cleared of artifacts, the Exhibit Design and Facilities Management teams step in to take out the cases, walls and murals. The gallery is constantly changing and without all the design walls in place, the room looks twice the size it did before.   Read more