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.