Big artifacts, big moves

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Laurie and Tina walk with an artifact to ensure its safety during transport.

Hello from Conservation!

Over the past few weeks we, in the Conservation Department, got really good at walking artifacts, much like pet parents walk their furry friends. Or, at least that’s what it felt like.    Read more

Dahlgren plans, and a new face in the tank farm!

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A view down the bore: although the front section is largely clean, patches of concretion several inches thick remain on most of the interior surface, beyond the reach of hand tools.

Hello everyone! After a sneak-preview of my existence in the most recent blog, I’m writing this post to introduce myself as the newest addition to the USS Monitor team. My name is Erik Farrell, and I joined as an Archaeological Conservator at the beginning of July. I previously worked as an archaeological conservator for the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, conserving materials from the wreck of Queen Anne’s Revenge with a focus on artillery and other ordnance. Before that I interned at Bevaringscenter Fyn in Denmark, working on a variety of objects including archaeological arms and armor components. I have a great love and affection for historic weapons (and historic artillery in particular), so I’ll give you two guesses what I’m most looking forward to… Dahlgrens!

A lot of work has gone into the conservation of Monitor‘s two XI-inch Dahlgren guns and their carriages already over the years. These are big, complex objects though, and there is still a great deal of work to be done. Marine archaeological guns always have one big problem in particular – how do you clean the inside?   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

New challenges in photomodeling

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Eagle Stern Carving, front

You know how some days/weeks just do not go the way you thought they were going to? New things pop up, projects that need immediate attention come to the forefront, and the plans you had change. Last week was that way for me, but in the absolute best way!

After a presentation that caught her eye at the recent American Institute of Conservation (AIC) Conference, Paige, the Museum’s Assistant Objects Conservator, approached me with a photo modeling project unlike anything I’ve previously attempted. She is working on a beautiful eagle stern board carving that will soon be going out on loan. To better photo-document the piece, Paige wanted to create an overview shot of the back of the board. Not so complicated, right?   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