We need your help!

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Interior of the USS <em>Monitor</em>'s turret showing the gun carriages in situ.
Interior of the USS Monitor’s turret showing the gun carriages in situ.

The Virginia Association of Museums (VAM) is running their Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts program again this year. We have nominated the Dahlgren gun carriages. We’ve written quite a bit about the treatment of these composite artifacts in the past (see this post, this post and this postamong others). Being composed of wood, iron, and copper alloy parts renders them one of the most complex objects to conserve in the USS Monitor collection. All of these materials require individual incompatible treatments causing conservators headaches to develop new strategies for their care. Now we need your help to get them onto the top ten Endangered Artifacts list that will promote our conservation efforts. Please go vote at www.vatop10artifacts.org. The public is invited to cast their votes from August 1 to 31. VAM will announce the honorees on September 27th.

We’ll be back with more conservation adventures soon. Now, go vote!   Read more

Lifting, Rotating, and Rolling with Care

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Conservation staff use a 5-ton auxiliary hoist with lifting cables to move a 10-foot long section of wrought iron propeller shaft weighing 1,900 pounds.  The shaft's surface is protected from the steel lifting cables by rubber, foam, and canvas.
Conservation staff use a 5-ton auxiliary hoist with lifting cables to move a 10-foot long section of wrought iron propeller shaft weighing 1,900 pounds. The shaft’s surface is protected from the steel lifting cables by rubber, foam, and canvas.

The act of moving USS Monitor artifacts during conservation or onto exhibit at The Mariners’ Museum often isn’t very simple.  Factors like an artifact’s size, weight, fragility, and material composition must be considered before any move occurs in order to avoid damaging these precious artifacts. Minimizing movement during treatment and exhibition is critical to the overall health and long-term survivability of fragile artifacts. Often times the Monitor Conservation team spends days or even weeks planning and prepping for a move that may take no more than a few seconds or minutes.  Better safe than sorry! 

We use a variety of gear and equipment including overhead cranes, lifting straps and cables, shackles, chain hoists, lifting platforms, come-a-longs, pneumatic tires, dollies, forklifts, and good old-fashioned sweat and elbow grease.  But sometimes even the best equipment and planning is no match for 140-years of exposure to a corrosive ocean environment.  As a result, many of these treasured artifacts from USS Monitor are too unstable after deconcretion and conservation to move out of the exhibit.   Read more