The Secret Life of Artifacts: Exposed

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Hull of the USS Monitor

You’ve seen the conservators in the USS Monitor Center on the live web cam, but have you ever thought about what’s going on inside those tanks when the conservators aren’t covered with gunk?  My name is Leanna, and I’ve been interning with The Mariners’ Museum for two years.  I’m a junior at Christopher Newport University studying chemistry, and minoring in art history and leadership.   Chemistry plays an integral part of the conservation process. 

Last semester, I researched the process of conserving marine recovered copper artifacts, like many of those recovered from the USS Monitor wreckage.    Read more

A Midwesterner learns about sailing ships

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The past few weeks have conspired to finally make me learn the difference between a sail and a sheet.

I can hear many of you, dear readers, chuckling to yourselves right now, and I honestly don’t blame you.  I have been a maritime librarian for several years and still had no firm grasp on the workings of a sailing ship.  No understanding of it beyond the barest essentials needed to not make a fool of myself.  I have always exculpated myself by pointing to my Ohio roots (I am reminded of the donation the Library received yesterday from a New Mexico public library.  They gave us several maritime-related books, saying in their letter that there wasn’t much interest in them in the high desert).  I also blamed my work on the age of steam, though as I have written in these pages, I know little to nothing about steam-engines either.   Read more

Hello to Our Teacher Friends!

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On Saturday, January 8, we hosted 39 teachers for a program here at the museum. We happened to be one of the stops on a whirlwind tour titled “Defenders of the Chesapeake”, which was put together by our colleague Winette Jefferies from the Hampton History Museum. The agenda for the day was a behind-the-scenes tour of Fort Monroe and The Casemate Museum, a lecture about Ft. Wool and tour at the Historic Chamberlin, a drive down Chesapeake Avenue from Hampton to Newport News (with a stop at Anderson Park for a review of the actual Battle of Hampton Roads site), and finally ending here at the museum for a brief tour of the Monitor Center exhibition, including a special behind-the-scenes peek in the Batten Conservation Complex.

Our visitors came to see us thanks to a partnership between the Hampton History Museum, Newport News Public Schools, and a Teaching American History Grant titled “Voices Of A Nation”. They are currently in year two of the grant which encompasses five years of workshops, tours, and innovative projects for Social Studies teachers K-12. Their theme for this year highlights the Civil War era, which is great timing, considering all the commemorative events on the horizon.   Read more