The Secret Life of Artifacts: Exposed

Posted on
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

Steaming Ahead!

Posted on

We are wrapping up our second week of deconcretion in the engine tank.  It was a particulary exciting week because we continued to expose more original surfaces of the engine.   This may sound silly, but the engine is starting to look more like an engine!  In addition to deconcretion, we also began planning for our electrolytic reduction setup and had interesting discussions about how to best disassemble the egnine into its component parts for more effective treatment. 

  The local media caught a whiff of our exciting work and started flocking to the museum.  Mark St. John Erickson ran a great story in the Daily Press (,0,2101784.story).  It includes photographs and a video filmed inside the engine tank.  A reporter from WAVY TV 10 dropped by and filmed conservators in action this morning.  The footage should air later tonight and tomorrow.  The Virginian-Pilot is also sending a reporter to the lab on Monday.  Keep your eyes and ears peeled for news updates.   Read more

The Port Carriage is Getting Lighter!!

Posted on

As mentioned on July 8th, several unsuccessful attempts in the removal of the wheels led us to plan B:  Disassemble the side plates by removal about 30 bolts… Fortunately, we have not had to remove every single bolt (yet), but by using Ridgid screw extractors we’ve made a great start! Removing only the bolts around the wheels released enough pressure to get us back to plan A (push and pull the wheels out).

Enjoy the following photos from last week’s work.   Read more

Battle of Hampton Roads Weekend!!

Posted on

The Mariners’ Museum is once again hosting the Battle of Hampton Roads Weekend this Saturday, March 6!  Drop by the museum at 10:00am to see costumed interpretors firing cannon (so loud it shakes the building), museum and NOAA experts giving lectures on the USS Monitor, CSS Virginia, and artifact conservation, listen to Civil War music, and participate in children’s activities.  And don’t forget about the behind-the-scenes tours in the conservation lab.  Tour space is limited so get to the museum early and sign up.  We have something for everybody this weekend!  Check out our website for more information: