Hampton Roads during WWII: the WACs

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The Women’s Army Corps (WAC) was formed in 1942; originally it was the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), but it was converted to active duty status in 1943. This made WACs unique to other women’s military groups, because it was the first time, and the only group, that integrated women into the United States Military. Around 150,000 women volunteered to serve in the WAC during World War II. Women were not allowed to fulfill ‘active combat’ roles in the military, but that still left over 250 support roles in the army to step into, from stenographer to map maker, photographer to truck driver, mechanic to switchboard operator. All of these positions were vital to the war effort. Many of the women who joined the WAC had a relative or sweetheart already serving, and hoped to bring their loved ones home sooner by aiding in the war effort. 

Most of these women served on the homefront, taking over office and other non-combat jobs so that men were able to go overseas to fight. These women were stationed in every type of state-side Army installation, working with the Army Service Forces, Ground Forces, the Army Air Forces, and in Army Hospitals.   Read more

Hampton Roads During WWII

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Overhead view of Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation

The Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation (HRPE) was the Army command structure and distribution port in Hampton Roads, Virginia. It was originally the Newport News Port of Embarkation when it was activated for World War I, and it was reactivated as the HRPE on 15 June 1942, in the wake of Pearl Harbor and the US’ entrance in World War II.

The main purpose of the Port was supporting the movement of personnel and cargo overseas, particularly to the European Theater of Operations (ETO). HRPE was the third largest US Army Transportation Corps port of embarkation during WWII. It served as a hub for the movements of millions of troops between 1942-1946.    Read more

Conservation Update: Turret Knife

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- credit The Mariners' Museum and Park
The USS Monitor turret under treatment

With most of our staff working from home these days, we haven’t been able to work on objects in the lab as much as we would like. But, I thought I would update you all on some work I completed back in March. 

Some of you may remember a blog post from way back in 2017, when I found a bone-handled knife in the concretion of the turret. While the conservation department had found many objects and items in the turret before, this came as a bit of a surprise. Much of the concretion had already been removed from the turret, and we didn’t think there were many places left for objects to hide. But we were wrong! Hidden in the rails of the railroad tracking that were used to construct the ceiling of the turret was a knife!   Read more

What is the American Institute for Conservation?

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The Mariners’ Museum and Park’s own Paige Schmidt (left) working as part of the Wooden Artifacts Group Programs Chairs

If you’ve ever read any of our blog posts about conservation, taken a lab tour, or talked to a conservator at any museum, you might have heard one of us mention “AIC” or the American Institute for Conservation. AIC is a national organization with thousands of members, including conservators and other museum professionals. It is a vital way for conservators to share information. So for this blog post, we thought we’d tell you a bit about what AIC is, how it helps us inform conservation decisions at The Mariners’ Museum and Park, and what we do at the Museum to contribute to AIC.

AIC holds an annual conference, which is usually located in a different city every year, giving conservators opportunities to not only attend lectures, but visit museums and conservation labs across the country. The conservation department at the Mariners’ makes an effort to present any new research produced at the annual conference. (You may have read about unique treatments we have been conducting in the conservation department in this blog before.) We make a concentrated effort to share our  results at the annual conference, so that other conservators can benefit from our research. Even if experiments do not yield the results we were hoping for, the information helps other conservators when making treatment decisions. Additionally, we often find colleagues from other museums who want to collaborate in continued research through AIC conferences.    Read more

A Lion by Any Other Color. . .

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The conservation team in front of the Southwest Lion during cleaning. Left to Right: Assistant Objects Conservator Paige Schmidt, USS Monitor Collections Manager Mike Saul, Assistant Conservator Laurie King, Archaeological Conservator Erik Farrell, and Volunteer Conservator Arianna DiMucci. Image Credit: The Mariners’ Museum and Park, photographer: Crystal R. Hines

If you’ve visited our Lions Bridge over the last couple of weeks, you may have seen our signature Lions turning shades of red and orange.  Never Fear! Nothing is wrong.  Rather, the conservation team is giving our Lions a ‘grooming.’

These cleaning sessions are done to maintain the longevity of our Lions.  Biological growth and air pollution on the limestone sculptures and granite bases will damage them over time.   Read more