Going to pieces for conservation: Experiences gained and lessons learning from ten years of disassembling USS Monitor composite artifacts

Will Hoffman


Having made the decision to disassemble composite artifacts into their subcomponents whenever possible for individual treatment, conservators undertaking the conservation of USS Monitor objects within the Batten Conservation Complex at The Mariners’ Museum and Park have gained much experience and developed an array of techniques to successfully accomplish this task. From safely lifting and turning objects to pushing components apart, conservators have acquired insight into the strengths of various materials, identified where to apply force and direct loads, the fabrication of custom equipment, and when to start and/or stop a disassembly attempt; all while evaluating and reevaluating potential consequences to long-term artifact stability. This paper will provide an overview of techniques, methods, equipment developed, and lessons learned over the last ten-years in the disassembly USS Monitor artifacts. Several composite objects will be utilized as case studies.

2022 | Los Angeles | Volume 29