From Andy Hall comes word that the Mariners’ Museum has been forced to temporarily close the USS Monitor conservation lab. The Monitor wreck and the artifacts are government-owned, but the Mariners’ Museum has undertaken the task of conserving these items for the American people. The museum depends on assistance from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for this project, and NOAA is waiting on congressional budget approval to see how much funding they can provide.
If you want to help out, sign this petition to let the folks in Washington know that this is a project worthy of support.
The Mariners’ Museum in Virginia, custodian of the USS Monitor‘s turret, is auctioning off the chance to stand inside the structure on the 150th anniversary of its sinking.
There’s something a little morbid about this. Two of the crew’s bodies were inside the turret when it was raised from the sea; the men who evacuated the sinking vessel got out through the turret, so these two sailors were probably making a last-ditch attempt to save their lives.
On the other hand, the museum is incorporating a memorial service for the Monitor‘s sixteen lost crew members into the turret experience, and the money raised in the auction will help defray the enormous cost of conserving its artifacts, which runs to thousands of dollars per day. What do you guys think?
Believe it or not, there’s a link between the first ironclad showdown and the mountains of East Tennessee. The papers of John Worden, who commanded the Monitor during that clash 150 years ago today, are now in a vault at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate.
The day it first occurred to me that I’d scored a really cool internship was when I got to hold the speaking trumpet Worden used in the battle and the Monitor‘s signal lantern. Am I doing some shameless history buff gloating? Why, yes I am!
…to see the turret from the Monitor live and in person. Conservators at the Mariners’ Museum have taken it out of its freshwater tank for cleaning. Once they’re done, the turret goes back in for another soak, and it’ll be fifteen years before they take it out again. Those of us who can’t make it to Newport News by the end of the month can still watch on live webcam.
I’ve wanted to get down there for a long time. I may have told you guys this before, but LMU’s museum has a number of very rare Monitor items in its collection. Some of them belonged to John Worden, who commanded the ship during the battle with the Virginia, including a collection of his papers, mementos given to him by the crew, the speaking trumpet he used in the engagement, and one of the ship’s signal lanterns. One of my biggest thrills as an intern was getting to handle these items in the process of dismantling a display. You can see some of this material in the museum’s current temporary exhibit, “Lincoln and the Technology of War.”
Now awesome is this? They might be able to use DNA to identify two crewmen found in the Monitor‘s turret.
Hat tip to Battlefields and Bibliophiles.