The Bronze Door Society Saves the Day!

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It was going so well, until it wasn’t. . .

It was a crisp winter morning, the year newly minted as it was only January 2nd.  I had just finished preparing all of our samples to run on our old, but usually reliable, ion chromatography (IC) unit.  (Aside: The IC is vital in measuring when the desalination treatments of USS Monitor objects are complete.)

Our IC unit ran out of preventive maintenance coverage (read warranty) as of January 1st.  The IC is so old that parts are hard to find and we couldn’t buy a new preventive maintenance policy on it.  Our IC was balancing on the precipice of obsolescence and inactivity.   Read more

The Tale of a Whale, or rather the Teeth. . .

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Pocket Knife with Baleen (suspected) handle
ca. 1878-1882
Credit: The Mariners’ Museum and Park

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.   Read more