At the end of the last post a story was promised, and really it is too interesting not to share. Here at the Monitor Center we are fortunate enough to have our own x-ray machine. Normally we use this device to x-ray concretions to determine what the artifact inside looks like. On a Thursday morning a couple of weeks ago, we were examining something a little different. Will, Fred – the conservator for the museum collection, and I were x-raying a painting.
Now this particular painting depicts the USCS Robert J. Walker, a survey ship that served in the United States Coast Survey from 1848 until it sank in 1860 resulting in the death of 20 crew members. The United States Coast Survey was an ancestor organization of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). The Walker disaster was the greatest loss of life ever experienced by NOAA or any of its precursor organizations. June 21, 2013 was the 153rd anniversary of the sinking; it was also World Hydrography Day. This year NOAA observed this day by honouring the men who lost their lives on the Robert J. Walker. They have also requested the painting as a loan from The Mariners’ Museum so that it can be displayed to commemorate these lost sailors.