Of the approximately 1600 artifacts recovered from the USS Monitor, 1/4 of them have been conserved. Many but not all of the 400+ conserved artifacts are now on display in the USS Monitor Center at The Mariners’ Museum. So what do we do with the artifacts that aren’t currently on display at the museum? The museum must safely store these artifacts under precise temperature and humidity controls in order to guarantee their long term stability while awaiting exhibition.
The following pictures show one of the many climate-controlled artifact storage areas at The Mariners’ Museum. This specific location houses many Monitor artifacts that aren’t currently on display.
Each artifact is stored in an individual box or container fabricated from archivally stable storage materials such as acid free board, ethafoam, etc. Note the numerous boxes of various shapes and size. Many of the large boxes actually contain dozens of smaller boxes.
Each container is labelled with an artifact accession number and descripition. Each shelf is also numbered. This complex numbering system allows museum staff to accurately track the exact location of each artifact in a comprehensive artifact database. This system greatly reduces the time it takes to phsyically locate a specific artifact for examination, research, or exhibit.
So remember — you are only seeing the tip of the iceberg when you are in the Monitor Center exhibit. But the best part is that the tip of the iceberg will always be changing due to the large number of unique artifacts recovered from the Monitor. Each artifact stored in this room is awaiting its chance to be the center of attention at a future date!