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

Out in the Tank Farm

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Lesley dry ice blasting an engine hull plate.

The past few weeks, team Monitor has been working in the tank farm, on some of the objects we keep stored in large outdoor tanks; including hull plating, stanchions, and supports for the engine, and a spreader plate, control arm and gun-slide reinforcements from the turret.

These objects had been cleaned with hand tools before, but had not yet been cleaned with dry ice blasting. This made for a very satisfying cleaning experience for us, the objects looked so much cleaner after dry ice blasting! It also allowed us to give our new archaeological conservator, Erik, some first hand experience with dry ice blasting.   Read more

Conservation goes to Texas

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Houston Museum of Natural Science

Recently a few members of the conservation team (Laurie, Will, Paige, Molly, and our newest team member Emilie, a Paper Conservator!) were able to attend the American institute for Conservation (AIC) conference in Houston, Texas. We have written about attending conferences before, but for those of you that don’t know, this was a meeting of hundreds of conservators and museum management professionals getting together to share ideas, research and new techniques. Basically, a museum nerd’s dream.

Laurie was able to go on a special tour of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and learn about their storage facilities. The Museum of Natural Science also hosted an evening reception, so Emilie and Laurie also got the bonus of seeing the Museums’ amazing dinosaur and fossil collection.   Read more