“In the Land of Submarines”: Moving Nishimura 3746

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The sub has been in outdoor storage for several decades. Mariners’ Museum # 1946.0002.000001. Courtesy of: Amanda Shields/The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

We can handle a lot of heavy lifting with our staff, but sometimes we need to call on outside experts for help. Such was the case with No. 3746, a Japanese mini-submarine designed by Nishimura Ishimatsu. We needed to lift the sub onto a custom cradle and relocate it. Often this is a simple task with objects in the Museum’s Collection; however, due to the sub’s size (35 feet long and 20 tons), there was no way we could do this in-house.

This “simple” task was actually the culmination of several years’ worth of planning and only possible due to many people’s support.  The Museum’s Bronze Door Society approved the funding of a custom cradle for the submarine during their 2019 annual dinner.  The cradle would fully support the hull and make it easier to move the sub. We could also conserve and display the submarine in its new support. Hannah, our archaeologist, shared with the Society why the sub is so special and the need for a new support. You can learn more about the history of the sub and the start of the project in our past “In the Land of Submarines” series posts; historyassessing; and documenting.   Read more

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

Tied up in rope conservation and more! 

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SEM at ARC William and Mary
Molly carefully inserting a wooden sample in the SEM chamber and the computer monitor displaying a previous sample image

I have been meaning to write a blog about progress on the Monitor ropes but, although archaeological objects conservators are currently focused on this part of the collection, we do all sorts of other things that I thought would also be interesting to share with you. 

If you have not done so yet, check out Laurie’s latest blogs about the gun sponge she has been treating lately. It looks so good!!    Read more

Telling a Story: A Documentarian Eye

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Senior Conservator Elsa Sangouard and Archaeological Conservators Laurie King and Lesley Haines screen concretion removed from USS Monitor artifacts.

A man of many hats

I did not expect how many photography styles I would have to be familiar with as a museum photographer. I might have on my technical photographer hat; focused on meeting set standards to ensure precision reproduction is possible. A little later on, I might become a still-life photographer and carefully craft lighting to create a beautiful image of an artifact. That afternoon, I might have to be a documentarian and follow staff members that are doing interesting work. 

If you’re familiar with my photography, you will probably know that I am typically the happiest when I’m in the studio working with lighting to create images that make our artifacts look beautiful. What can I say? I’m a bit of a control freak, and the level of control I get to exert in the studio is comforting to me. That said, every once in a while, it’s good to step out into the wide world outside my studio doors and take photos with less control.    Read more