The USS Monitor Collection at The Mariners’ Museum consists of nearly 1,500 individual artifacts that collectively weigh over 200 tons. That’s a very significant collection in terms of number and weight. Most people imagine heaps and stacks of wrought iron and cast iron when they hear these figures. Heck, the term ironclad makes it difficult to imagine any other construction material. But did you know that the USS Monitor Collection consists of many materials other than just wrought and cast iron?
In terms of metals objects we have copper, brass, bronze, lead, tin, silver, gold, and other alloys in addition to iron. We also have scores of organic objects like wood, rope, leather, wool, cotton, foodstuffs, rubber, bone, oil, canvas, and other unique materials. We can safely move metal artifacts through wet treatment in ambient conditions with varying temperature and humidity. But our organic materials require cool and dark conditions for optimum storage and treatment. Therefore, we store them in a large walk-in cooler at approximately 40-degrees Fahrenheit.