A Year of Reflection: Our Favorite Photos of 2021

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Farquhar Celestial Navigation Sphere Device 1X3, collection-number: 1953.0021.000001. Photo: Brock Switzer/ The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

If you’re reading this blog post, then, first, congratulations! You made it through 2021 or, as I’ve seen it called, 2020 part two. All joking aside, it has been a whirlwind of a year. Pandemic numbers ebbed and flowed like tides, and we all tried our best to return to some semblance of normalcy in our lives, most of us finding out that “normal” has changed.

For our part, the Museum reopened our galleries and invited you all to join us once more, to connect with the world’s waters and to each other. Our staff returned, events resumed, and our work continued. We never really closed at the onset of the pandemic. We simply switched to providing what we could to our community on virtual platforms. Now we are back in person, and Amanda and I have had a lot of photographing to do.   Read more

Mariners’ Collection of Curiosities: Spooky and Peculiar Artifacts from the Archives

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Lady Figurehead – The Mariners’ Museum and Park – Accession Number: 1937.0487.000001A

Fear Not! For I have scoured The Mariners’ Collection, walked the dark storage rooms, and gotten up close and personal with five of our creepiest and most mysterious artifacts, so you don’t have to. I’ve listed the following artifacts for their varying levels of creep-factor or for the fascinating or mysterious stories behind them. All just in time for spooky season! 

The Lady

In her heyday, the Lady figurehead sailed the open waters on a European vessel and arrived at the Museum in January 1982. She graced the walls of what was once The Great Hall of Steam until the Museum opened the Speed and Innovation exhibit. She’s not currently on display; however, her glass eyes and blank stare haunt our Collections Specialist from the workspace storage room. There’s just something unsettling about her…   Read more

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