A Lion by Any Other Color. . .

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The conservation team in front of the Southwest Lion during cleaning. Left to Right: Assistant Objects Conservator Paige Schmidt, USS Monitor Collections Manager Mike Saul, Assistant Conservator Laurie King, Archaeological Conservator Erik Farrell, and Volunteer Conservator Arianna DiMucci. Image Credit: The Mariners’ Museum and Park, photographer: Crystal R. Hines

If you’ve visited our Lions Bridge over the last couple of weeks, you may have seen our signature Lions turning shades of red and orange.  Never Fear! Nothing is wrong.  Rather, the conservation team is giving our Lions a ‘grooming.’

These cleaning sessions are done to maintain the longevity of our Lions.  Biological growth and air pollution on the limestone sculptures and granite bases will damage them over time.   Read more

Out in the Tank Farm

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Lesley dry ice blasting an engine hull plate.

The past few weeks, team Monitor has been working in the tank farm, on some of the objects we keep stored in large outdoor tanks; including hull plating, stanchions, and supports for the engine, and a spreader plate, control arm and gun-slide reinforcements from the turret.

These objects had been cleaned with hand tools before, but had not yet been cleaned with dry ice blasting. This made for a very satisfying cleaning experience for us, the objects looked so much cleaner after dry ice blasting! It also allowed us to give our new archaeological conservator, Erik, some first hand experience with dry ice blasting.   Read more

Conservation goes to Texas

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Houston Museum of Natural Science

Recently a few members of the conservation team (Laurie, Will, Paige, Molly, and our newest team member Emilie, a Paper Conservator!) were able to attend the American institute for Conservation (AIC) conference in Houston, Texas. We have written about attending conferences before, but for those of you that don’t know, this was a meeting of hundreds of conservators and museum management professionals getting together to share ideas, research and new techniques. Basically, a museum nerd’s dream.

Laurie was able to go on a special tour of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and learn about their storage facilities. The Museum of Natural Science also hosted an evening reception, so Emilie and Laurie also got the bonus of seeing the Museums’ amazing dinosaur and fossil collection.   Read more

Into Storage We Go!

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Final image of Yorktown gun

It’s time for an update on the Yorktown gun! In the last blog post, the Yorktown gun was dry ice blasted and beginning desalination to get rid of those pesky chlorides. Since then the gun has been fully desalinated, dried, and given a protective coating to prevent future corrosion. Now the gun is ready for storage until it is time to be displayed again.

You might be thinking, “Wait a minute, STORAGE?? I wanted to see it back on display on the York River!” which is a fair thought. But as we’ve mentioned before, chlorides and high humidities can cause corrosion in archaeological iron, so to display a newly conserved cannon on a brackish river in the middle of Virginia might not be the best idea. However, we did have the gun 3-D scanned in order to make a cast model. The cast will be displayed in the gun’s place, so it will be just like having the original gun out on the York River again.    Read more

That’s not a knife, THIS is a knife!

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Lesley and Laurie working in the turret

As mentioned in our previous post, we’ve been spending quite a lot of time working in the turret the past few weeks! We’ve been taking a lot of photographs, to document how the conservation process is proceeding. We’ve also been doing some assessment for the future. But most importantly, we have been cleaning away the concretion (marine growth) and mud that is trapped in the rails.

Some of you may remember that when the USS Monitor sank, it turned upside-down. The turret is still upside-down as that is the most stable position for it to be in at the moment. Which means that in the picture above, Lesley and I are actually standing on the turret’s ceiling! The ceiling was constructed out of railroad tracks, which means there’s plenty of nooks and crevasses for concretion and corrosion to build up. AND there’s plenty of places for objects to hide!   Read more