Gallery Crawl

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Looking for something fun to do in September?  I’m happy to say that The Mariners’ Museum is hosting a unique Gallery Crawl event.  Only a small percent of our collection is currently on display, about 2%, which has always saddened us.  This event allows us to bring out objects that most people have not seen before and allows the staff to share the interesting stories behind the pieces.  Collections staff will be positioned in various spots throughout the galleries with artifacts from storage.  There will also be food and drink stations relating to galleries they are stationed near.  The Gallery Crawl will be on September 19, 6:30-10:00pm and there are a limited number of tickets, so book soon if you are interested!

More information can be found here.

Help Identify a Mystery Artifact

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Over the past 13 years, NOAA archaeologists and Mariners’ Museum conservators have discovered hundreds of amazing artifacts within USS Monitor‘s revolving gun turret. Some artifacts, like the Dahlgren guns, gun carriages, and gun tools, are undergoing conservation as I type this blog entry. Others have already been fully conserved and are now on display within the USS Monitor Center at The Mariners’ Museum or have been loaned to other institutions around the country to help share Monitor‘s fascinating stories.

However, there are handful of artifacts that continue to mystify us in the lab, particularly those that have been fully conserved but not properly identified. It may sound strange or surprising that in the last 13 years we have not successfully identified every single artifact from the turret. But this is often the case when many materials are excavated from an archaeological setting.   Read more

RMS Queen Mary

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Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
RMS Queen Mary at dock in Long Beach, CA, Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I recently had the opportunity to visit RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, which is something I have been wanting to do for quite a while now.

Queen Mary has had a pretty illustrious history, which I won’t go into in too much detail because you can read about it on her website, HERE.  She was built in Scotland for the Cunard Line and had her maiden voyage in 1936.  She quickly became a favorite for the rich and famous who wanted to travel luxuriously.  During WWII she became a troopship and was nicknamed the “Grey Ghost” due to her stealth and grey paint.  If I heard correctly on one of my tours, at one point she carried as many as 16,000 troops on one voyage, which is still a record to this day.  I know that she is a large boat, but that seems like way too many people.  Anyways, in 1967 she retired and docked in Long Beach, where she remains to this day.   Read more

A Bit of Round Randomness

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Sanitary Telephone Card from Baltimore Steam Packet Company.  Used to protect against germs while using the phone.  It was also supposed to slightly amplify the voice.
Sanitary Telephone Card from Baltimore Steam Packet Company.  Used to protect against germs while using the phone. It was also supposed to slightly amplify the voice. (2000.14.32)

A bit of randomness today as I offer a selection of round items from our collection.   And a few thoughts on how any museum collection can be inherently random by the very fact that it exists.

All collections can be grouped in some way, and many of our pieces are part of a whole or set of items.  For example, a tea set used onboard a ship.   Let’s say it consists of a teapot, cream pitcher, sugar bowl, two cups, two saucers and two spoons.   Of these items, the teapot may have come in from one source, the pitcher and bowl from another and so on….   Yet each of the items eventually made their way to the museum where they were joined together in our Collections database.   They are now linked together by their association to a particular ship or ship line.   Read more

Welcome to our Workroom–please excuse the clutter

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Creativity.  Rachel wrapping a canoe with blankets and stretch wrap.
Creativity. Rachel wrapping a canoe with blankets and stretch wrap.

Today I offer a true “behind the scenes” look at our museum world. Welcome to our workroom. A small, but vital area that sometimes looks as if a tornado blew through it and other times it looks so pristine that you would swear we probably don’t do any actual work here. The ambiance of this area depends on who is using it at the time, whether we are expecting a visit from a donor or researcher, and which projects are underway.

This is the place objects moving in, out and around the museum make a stop during their journeys. Shelving and closets house new artifacts, incoming and outgoing loans, and artifacts being moved on and off display. Items we are trying to identify or research will also find a temporary home here. The length of time an object will stay in the workroom ranges from a few minutes, a few weeks, months, or as long as a year (or more), depending on what needs to be done. It could take just a few minutes to replace an identification tag that was removed before exhibition and a year to complete the extensive paperwork and processing for a donation consisting of hundreds of items.   Read more