“In the Land of Submarines”: Documenting Nishimura 3746

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Japanese submarine Nishimura 3746 in 2020

This week “in the Land of Submarines” we’re focusing on documenting the Japanese submarine Nishimura 3746. Previously we talked about its history and our initial assessment of the hull. All this activity is in preparation of moving the sub onto a custom cradle and to a new home. 

Since it’s arrival at the Museum in 1946, the sub has been displayed and stored outside. At 35 feet long and 22 tons, keeping it inside wasn’t an option at an institution where space is at a premium. As we prepare the sub for lifting one of our major steps is documenting its condition. After 82 years the hull is still sound, however we’re paying particular attention to the keel.    Read more

“In the Land of Submarines”: Assessing Nishimura 3746

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Nishimura 3746 in 2020

Welcome to the second installment of our miniseries on Nishimura 3746, a Japanese midget submarine. We’re deep diving into an on-going project to resupport this one-of-a-kind vessel. Check out the first post in the series to learn about Nishimura’s history and how it arrived at the Museum. 

The purpose of the project is to lift the sub onto a custom cradle and move it to a more accessible location. The sub currently rests on its keel and is supported by several blocks. A proper support will protect the hull, provide safe access, and bonus, can be used as an exhibit mount when the time comes to display it!   Read more

Agents of Decay: they’re everywhere!

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The “best” example of inappropriate temperature is when you accidentally melt plastic during a kitchen mishap.

I know, Agents of Decay sounds like an epic punk band or a comic book supervillain gang, but it’s actually a concise list of the different ways things deteriorate. In 1994, Charlie Costain of the Canadian Conservation Institute created the original list of nine agents and coined the phrase “agents of decay” to summarize the forces behind object damage. The next year, conservator Robert Waller added the final agent, making it an even 10. After 25 years, this list remains a linchpin of conservation theory.

You see, it is vital that a conservator first understands the problem before fixing it. We spend as much time learning about damage pathways in school as we do in addressing the problems. The agents range from everyday environmental issues to unlikely, but devastating, events. It’s important to remember, and you’ll see it as we go through the list, that often these agents work together. Conservators have two methods of combating damage. The first is preventive conservation, which focuses on manipulating the environment around the object to prevent or mitigate possible damage. The second is interventive conservation. This is a response to the damage and involves treating the object in order to stabilize it.    Read more

Conservators at Home

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This Monday marks eight weeks since the museum staff started working from home. For the Conservation Department it’s been an interesting transition. The majority of our daily life is spent treating objects, constructing object housing, and running analytical equipment. None of which we can do from home. In fact, professional museum bodies frown on conservators taking their work (aka the objects) home with them. Fair enough, but it does beg the question: what have you all been doing?

I’m so glad you asked. Paperwork. Lots and lots of paperwork. We’re finishing reports, catching up on research, and organizing object files. Also watching webinars, completing training, and planning for the future. It has been nice to have time to devote to the things that are usually relegated to the back burner.   Read more

Bringing the Outdoors In

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Interior of the Boat Building Shed after the move.

After nearly two years, an ongoing project to move and cover our over sized outdoor collections is nearly complete! I’m excited to share the incredible transformation and thank all of the people who made this project possible.

Hannah posted a blog at the start of the project in August 2018 talking about moving objects from outdoor storage into our former boat building shed. Moving objects inside slows their deterioration rate, which delays the need for active conservation treatment. Space is always at a premium in museums, and because these objects are over sized and fairly robust, they were stored outside for most of their lives. In an effort to improve their situation, we decided to repurpose the boat shed. In preparation for the move, Hudgins Contracting removed the loose gravel and resurfaced the floor for us so that the objects would have an even, compact surface to rest on.   Read more