Getting the Collection “Ship-Shape”: The Small Craft Survey

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Objects Conservator Paige Schmidt and Myself examine “Minnow”, an Optimist Class Dinghy, in the International Small Craft Center. Image Credit: The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

If you visit the International Small Craft Center on Thursdays, you may spot Objects Conservator Paige Schmidt and me (Summer Conservation Intern) crawling around on the floor between the boats. We have not lost our glasses like a blinded Velma Dinkley. Actually, we’re conducting a conservation survey of the Museum’s collection of 142 small craft.

The small craft collection contains a diverse variety of vessels ranging in size, shape, function, and source culture. Because the Museum’s small craft originate from such a variety of contexts, each boat comes to the Museum with its own quirks and challenges resulting from its history of use. To get a better understanding of the collection, its condition issues, and its needs, it is necessary to evaluate each small craft, one-by-one.   Read more

A Vial-ful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down: Technical Analysis of Historical “Medicines”

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Image 1. Ship’s Medical Chest, c.1860, before conservation treatment. Image Credit: The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

Last month, The Mariners’ Museum and Park welcomed me “aboard” for an 8-week Graduate Fellow Internship in Conservation. During this summer, I am working with the Conservation Department under Object Conservator Paige Schmidt. I’m coming to The Mariners’ Museum from Buffalo, New York, where I’m studying Art Conservation at SUNY Buffalo State College, majoring in Objects Conservation. During my time at the Museum, my primary project will be the treatment and analysis of a Ship’s Medical Chest from c.1860 (image 1). The results of analysis will be used to inform safe handling and storage of the chest. The Museum has almost a dozen medical chests, which were once used by ship physicians to hold their medical tools, books, and “medicines.” This chest houses 9 glass vials, 6 of which contain substances that may have been used as medicines in the 19th century (image 2).

Our suspected substances

Finding unknown medical substances in a museum collection can be concerning, as many early medicines are now known to be hazardous. Some of the vials were labeled, “Camphor,” “Bryonia,” “Nux Vomica,” and “Tartar emet,” (although the Nux Vomica vial was empty).  Camphor is a common ingredient in topically-applied medicines like anti-irritants and vapor rubs, but high dermal exposures and ingestion can be toxic.   Read more

Princess Carolina Update: Treatment Testing and Small Artifact Work

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Preparing nanoparticle products for testing. Image courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

Happy February, Mariners’ family!

I hope you all had a lovely holiday season and a great start to the New Year. I wanted to give you all a quick update about Princess Carolina aka Ronson because we have some exciting stuff happening!    Read more

A Small Look Back: Our Top Photos of 2020

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Brock:

Since its inception in 1930, The Mariners’ Museum and Park has employed photographers to document the institution’s collection and progression and tell our stories visually. Through the waters, through our shared maritime heritage, we are all connected. Our photographs aim to bring that point home. Amanda and I are lucky to work for an organization that understands that a picture is often worth a thousand words.

Although 2020 has had its share of challenges and obstacles, we have done our best to continue the tradition of visual storytelling. In March, we closed our doors to the public amid the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our staff headed home for two weeks. Two weeks turned into much longer. I believe I speak for both of us when I say that we were elated when we got the green light to return to continue photographing our Collection and various happenings around the Museum.   Read more

La Isabel Project: Part Three

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Fibers used for caulking between two strakes. Image courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

Hello again and happy November!

I’m back for another installment of La Isabel project and this week we’re talking about one of my favorite parts of conservation: science! Conservation is an interesting field because it’s highly interdisciplinary. One week I’ll use skills I gained from history courses to research an artifact (check out my 2nd blog post), another I’ll be using technical photography skills for documentation (see my 1st blog post), and then on a week like this I may be using my chemistry and biology knowledge to analyze an artifact!   Read more