The Turret is draining! The Turret is draining!

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The drained turret from summer of 2016

That’s right folks, it’s almost turret season! We will be draining the turret tank on July 31st, and from then on it’s turret all day, every day for those of us in the conservation lab. And trust me, we’re all very excited to get back in the turret again!

You may remember from our previous blog posts that last summer we worked on removing all of the nutguards from the interior of the turret. This summer we’ll be assessing the status of the nutguards and possibly even dry ice blasting them, so stay tuned for more nutguard updates!   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

A word from our summer intern, Kim

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Firing hammer from the starboard USS Monitor Dahlgren gun

Hi everyone!
My name is Kim, and I’m an intern at The Mariners’ Museum and Park in the Batten Conservation Complex this summer. I’m currently working towards my master’s degree in archaeological conservation at Cardiff University and am completing this internship as a requirement for my degree. My specialization is primarily focused on the conservation of marine archaeological artifacts. What better place than the USS Monitor Center at The Mariners’ Museum and Park! For those of you who follow the blog, I am in good company in the lab with assistant conservators Leslie and Laurie, two other Cardiff grads. I’m looking forward to spending my summer in Newport News and working on Monitor artifacts!
I will be working on several projects this summer, including the continued treatment of a few Monitor artifacts: small iron artifacts (studs, nuts, keys) from the port cannon carriage, copper alloy hammer from the starboard cannon, wood handle, and a concreted flange. More information about these treatments will be presented in a public lecture in August.

In addition to these treatments, I will also work alongside the rest of the Monitor team on some of the large artifacts in the “Tank Farm” and the turret later this summer. My second week is coming to a close, and it’s been a busy couple of weeks already! I’ve been fortunate enough to help Elsa and Laurie in the Tank Farm the last two weeks, removing artifacts from the tank and dry ice blasting them before resuming electrolysis.    Read more

Back from Illinois

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From left to right: Lesley, me, Will, Laurie and Kate at the Art Institute of Chicago standing in front of a lovely Byzantine camel mosaic.

Good day everyone,
Monitor’s conservators are back from an AIC (American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works) conference held in Chicago last week!
Laurie and I each presented a poster during the conference. Laurie’s topic was “Guns and Ships, Using Dry Ice Blasting in the Conservation of Cast Iron”, where she developed her recent work with two revolutionary cannons from Yorktown. And the other poster title was “The USS Monitor Gun Carriages: Treatment Steps and Innovations for the Conservation of Complex Composite Artifacts”, in which the main steps needed for the conservation of the gun carriages were described. We had a lot of good feedback for both projects, and were able to make useful new contacts.
Besides poster presentations, the conference provided many specialists talks on very specialized topics… Whether it was painting conservation, paper conservation, preventive conservation or architecture, you name it, there was a whole panel of presentations about it! It was awesome.
We all had a blast and are ready to tackle our summer work schedule, energized after this invigorating conference! And here is a rare shot of Monitor’s conservators in clean, presentable, clothes.

Also, do not forget to visit us for only $1 all summer long!! We added a lot of programs in the gallery for the entire $1 museum’s admission time frame (from Memorial Day until Labor Day). Mike will be showing his artifact housing techniques once a week in the gallery, Hannah will share her latest 3D modeling fancy work, I will be discussing the wool coat treatment next to the brand new coat case, and John Quarstein will be giving many lectures. The whole team will be spending some public time on the platform facing the Wet Lab several set times a week! And that is just for the USS Monitor Center side of the museum’s greatness. There is so much more to see and experience throughout the whole institution, please take advantage of this awesome experience!!   Read more

Mystery object: part II

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Cross-section of the concretion showing stacked straps of leather.

Thanks to Riverside Regional Medical Center, our “mystery object” received a CT scan a few weeks ago!
We are so grateful for the help our health care neighbors provided with the project.
Also, thank you all for the many suggestions last month on what could be trapped within this concretion!
So… what did we find?!
A whole lot of precious information for conservation purposes!
First of all, the CT scan confirmed that any metallic material left within the concretion is fully mineralized, in other words, there is no more metal left, only metallic corrosion products.
Second, we now know that there is a LOT of leather left inside this concretion. The object is composed of many leather straps, sometimes up to 7 of them stacked on top of one another. See these pictures of cross sections of the concretion:

In the following picture, an o-ring can be seen from which at least two small straps depart (yellow arrow). On one of these straps, stiches can be seen (red arrows).
   Read more