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

World Water Day – Monitoring the Water Quality of Lake Maury

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Happy World Water Day!

This is an especially important day for all of us at The Mariners’ Museum and Park.  Our mission is to connect people to the world’s waters, and through those waters, to each other.

On a day dedicated to the sustainable use of water, we thought we would talk about our efforts to monitor and conserve our waterway, Lake Maury.

Our Lake collects storm water from the city.  Because of this, the health of the Lake and the life it supports can change quickly due to circumstances outside of the Museum and Park’s control.   Read more

I-Arghhhh: The Use of an Infrared (IR) Camera in Conservation

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Valentine viewed by the camera in ‘visible’ light (light our eyes can detect). (Image credit: The Mariners’ Museum and Park)

Last month, Dr. Molly McGath and I unveiled conservation’s infrared camera to the public during the ‘Be My Mariner’ event. Visitors created Valentines for their special someones, and included a ‘secret’ message that only our IR camera could reveal.

The event was a lot of fun, and it was great to see all of the creative and clever ideas kids (and their parents!) came up with for their Valentines.   Read more

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