Large Scale Conservation Part 2

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Recently we did some work on Monitor’s twin vibrating side-lever steam engine (seen here submerged in its treatment tank).

This engine is almost the size of my kitchen. Made mostly of cast and wrought iron it weighs approximately 30 tons. In order to keep it submerged in treatment solution this 40,000 gallon tank (the square tank in the middle of the pic) was constructed for us by the folks at the Northrop Grumman shipyard here in Newport News.   Read more

Large Scale Conservation – Part 1

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Hey folks, Josiah here.  I’m relatively new to the Monitor Conservation Project, on a yearlong fellowship to help with all of the work to be done here and to learn about marine archaeological conservation as I go along. One of the most interesting things that I am learning from working here is the logistics of large scale conservation work. The majority of work in the conservation field tends to deal with relatively small objects, papers, paintings, etc. Often they are things that can fit on a workbench or easel and require a lot of fine detail work. Sometimes a larger sculpture or painting comes through the lab and requires a bit of planning, equipment, jigs, and improvisation to perform the necessary work. Other projects such as large outdoor sculpture are too big, or too permanent to bring into the lab, and require the conservator to move his “lab”, including scaffolding and ladders as well as the usual equipment, out to the object. The work on the Monitor is a bit different from either of those situations. It is a huge project involving both huge artifacts, and thousands of smaller artifacts, and all of it has to come to the lab. A project like this requires massive planning and investment in logistics, equipment, and support before any treatment of objects can even begin. The recovery effort to bring these objects up from the bottom of the ocean was a pretty incredible undertaking in itself, but it was long before my time here so I’m going to write mostly about the logistics of the lab and the ongoing work of treatment.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Newly Conserved Artifacts Now on Display!

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Just in time for Battle of Hampton Roads weekend, 10 newly conserved artifacts are now on display at the USS Monitor Center, helping to tell the story of the Monitor and the CSS Virginia.

Visitors to the Monitor Center are now greeted by the muzzle of a IX-inch Dahlgren shell gun which was used on board the Virginia on March 8th, the first day of the Battle of Hampton Roads.  A shot fired by the USS Cumberland damaged its muzzle and the gun was retired and later captured by the Union Navy as ‘Trophy No. 1’ This gun with its beautiful commemorative inscription is on loan to The Mariners’ Museum from the US Navy and has recently been cleaned and conserved.  During the process, Will found a number of historic ‘graffitti’ inscriptions not previously visible.   Read more