Tornado Saves Capital (and Steals Anchor for Museum!)

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Recently I had the pleasure of giving a behind the scenes tour to attendees of the annual conference of the National Society Children of 1812 (if you follow me on Facebook you might remember they gave us $1850 towards the conservation of a watercolor in the collection).  While planning the tour, I decided to include one of the anchors in our collection because it had a great War of 1812 provenance.

The anchor, a large Old Plan kedge anchor, had been recovered from the bottom of the Patuxent River near Point Patience, Maryland in 1959 by US Navy divers from the Naval Ordnance Laboratory Test Facility.  Luckily, despite spending 145 years underwater, the anchor was in fairly pristine condition and retained many of its identifying marks.   Read more

Hunting with the Amazons

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Scrapbook prior to disassembly

Well…probably not the kind of Amazons you’re thinking about, these were the Amazon-class steam screw sloop’s HMS Daphne, Dryad and Nymph of the Royal Navy and the “hunt” occurred off the East Coast of Africa as they worked to suppress the African slave trade.

I became interested in this story after the library transferred an album of watercolors and sketches over to the object collection (which is where works of art normally live).  The album contained thirty-seven images created by Lt. William Henn of the Royal Navy. For you America’s Cup fans that name should sound familiar.  Henn and his wife Susan and their pet Maltese monkey, Peggy, raced their 90-ton cutter yacht Galatea (which was also their house!) against Mayflower in the 1886 America’s Cup.   Read more

Even the lion has to defend himself against… lichen?

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The Lions are ready for the catwalk again. Conservation cleaning of four of the Museum’s most iconic treasures is complete for this year.

These before and after images highlight the reduction of biological growth from the surface of the stone. As mentioned in a previous post  (see A Lion by Any Other Color…), lichen, moss, and ‘mildew’ all degrade the surface of the stone. Without regular and careful cleaning and care, the details in Anna Hyatt Huntington’s sculptures can be lost over time.   Read more