New challenges in photomodeling

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Eagle Stern Carving, front

You know how some days/weeks just do not go the way you thought they were going to? New things pop up, projects that need immediate attention come to the forefront, and the plans you had change. Last week was that way for me, but in the absolute best way!

After a presentation that caught her eye at the recent American Institute of Conservation (AIC) Conference, Paige, the Museum’s Assistant Objects Conservator, approached me with a photo modeling project unlike anything I’ve previously attempted. She is working on a beautiful eagle stern board carving that will soon be going out on loan. To better photo-document the piece, Paige wanted to create an overview shot of the back of the board. Not so complicated, right?   Read more

The Tale of a Whale, or rather the Teeth. . .

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Pocket Knife with Baleen (suspected) handle
ca. 1878-1882
Credit: The Mariners’ Museum and Park

Hello! As this my first blog at The Mariners’ Museum and Park I will introduce myself.  My name is Molly McGath and I’m the new Analytical Chemist here at the museum.  I imagine some of you might be a bit surprised at the idea of a chemist  working in a museum.  I do many different kinds of chemical analysis of museum objects, including chemical identification and characterization, exploring deterioration mechanisms of objects, and studying the short-term and long-term behavior of conservation treatments.   To give you a better idea of what my job is like, I’ll share a project I worked on right after starting.

First the Tale. . .

Conservator Paige Schmidt brought me a question about an object she was treating.  She wanted to know whether the handle of this knife (see image below) was made from baleen.  So I started the process of chemical analysis.   Read more

Filling the Turret Tank: an epic saga in six parts

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The outside auxiliary tanks can hold the turret’s solution while we work or be used to build up new water. The middle “small” tank is where the skeg beam and hull plates are housed.

Turret Season is officially over! Last week we changed the solution in the turret tank and hooked it back up to its electrolytic reduction (ER) system. This is a long and exhausting process which takes about a week to complete. Let’s look at the steps involved in readying the turret for the off-season.

Thursday, A week out:   Read more

Return from conservation

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Painting pre-conservation

Last year I posted about winning money from the Bronze Door Society to conserve my favorite painting in the collection.  Well, I’m happy to say that the painting has now returned from conservation and looks amazing!

Notice how dark the painting was.  It’s difficult to see, but there is a tear on the pyramid, just above the second smoke stack.  The canvas was loose on the stretcher and part of the artist’s signature (as well as people and camel feet) were wrapped around the bottom edge, obscuring them.   Read more

What have you been up to back there?

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One of our more bent stanchions after dry ice cleaning

We have a fantastic corps of volunteers here at the museum. Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know some of them, particularly the Navigators, who greet visitors, offer tours, and make sure guests find their way to all of the exhibits. Whenever I see them, they never fail to ask how the conservation of the Monitor is going, or if we’ve discovered anything new, or sometimes more generally: what have you been up to back there lately?

So here’s what we’ve been up to lately. . .   Read more