On the right track

Posted on
Detailed view of the interior of the turret showing one of the Dahlgren guns on its carriage.

It has been too long since we’ve given an update on the conservation of Monitor’s port gun carriage. So long in fact, that the conservation of its 250-ish components are now complete!!!

Looking back and reflecting on the many steps of this (large) object’s treatment, I really love that it has benefited from all of the research and discoveries done in the lab over the past 10 years. It is, after all, the largest Monitor object completed thus far and we were experimenting a lot along the way to provide the best treatment possible with current knowledge. We also knew that the work would benefit not only “our little Monitor” but the field at large. And we learned so much!   Read more

Engine, gun carriage, packing seal, oh my!

Posted on
1- Ventilation engine in its new frame

Hi All,
We have been working on a few large items in the Wet Lab recently. One of the ventilation engines needed a new support, which required flipping the object 45 degrees, and custom building a frame for this purpose. Additionally, a second round of dry ice blasting was applied to the port gun carriage and a first round of dry ice cleaning was performed on a section of the propeller shaft.
We just wanted to share a few pictures from all processes, so here are views of the ventilation engine re-support:

Here are a few before and after from dry ice cleaning of the port gun carriage:
   Read more

Good things in “stor-age” for the USS Monitor collection

Posted on

We were all waiting for Will to write this blog because he put so much effort into advocating and getting new cabinets for “Our Little Monitor” collection (shout-out to Anna Gibson Holloway and Jonathan W. White for their new book! Get it here if you haven’t yet). But Will’s time is sparse these days, and writing blogs usually does not make it to the top of his priority list…Too bad, these brand new storage cabinets are his babies and the Monitor collection will forever be thankful!!

But hold on… why exactly did we need new cabinets you ask?!   Read more

Mystery solved!

Posted on
Discussing Raman analyses results. From left to right: Ralph Spohn, chemist volonteer at TMMP; Olga Trofimova, laboratory and research technician at the ARC of William and Mary; Qijue Wang, PhD student at William and Mary.

Hi all,

We have been doing a lot of reorganizing of the lab recently in order to make room for two new employees joining us soon: an objects conservator, who will be working on the museum’s collection (not Monitor related) and a chemist, who will be in charge of ALL the analyses we do here. This is very exciting for us on so many levels! For the current Monitor crew, a chemist position means that we will all stop spending almost half of our work time running the ion chromatograph or checking the potential of artifacts in electrolytic reduction… a chemist means sooo much more time for us all to be hands on objects. This is really outstanding and we cannot wait to pass on this work load to someone else!   Read more

Personal touch!

Posted on
Crewmen relaxing on deck, while the ship was in the James River, Virginia, on 9 July 1862. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Thanks to NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the “Morgan Trust” (i.e. Marietta McNeil Morgan & Samuel Tate Morgan, Jr. Foundation), there is a new exhibit case in the USS Monitor Center!
This one is celebrating the two gentlemen found in the turret during excavation in 2002. Their facial reconstructions are on display as well as their belongings, most of which were located in what would have been their pockets.

The majority of their clothes were not preserved, which insinuates that they were primarily made of vegetal fibers (cotton, linen…). During burial, the turret environment became slightly acidic due to metal corrosion and only animal fibers have the capacity to resist such conditions (hence the reason why 80% of a wool coat was preserved).
It is a poignant display. Each and every one of us can relate to what these men were wearing and carrying in their pockets during their last moments, even if it was 155 years ago… Come and see it for yourself! You will find this new case in the large artifact gallery of the USS Monitor Center. See you soon!!   Read more