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Wednesday, May 15 • 4:15pm - 4:30pm
(Collection Care) Survey Says…: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach to Streamlining Collections Assessments

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Since its founding, in 1932, The Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News, Virginia has relied on outdoor storage for a number of oversized objects, including anchors, propellers, and cannon. This practice has continued out of necessity, the Museum currently does not have enough interior storage to house these large objects. Due to years of environmental exposure, the collection has experienced a range of condition issues. In an effort to address concerns raised over the outdoor collection, a survey was undertaken in 2017 to examine the state of the objects and lay the groundwork to develop an updated long-term conservation and collections care plan. Through this process, a new type of survey tool emerged. By adapting traditional condition surveys to fit the needs of the Museum and adding a significance/value score, a priority ranking system was developed. A key factor identified in the process was the use of several experts to assess the collection from their unique perspective. A conservator performed the condition assessment, while a material culture specialist examined the collection from an archaeological standpoint. This system created a numerical ranking which could be divided into different levels of priority based on stability and importance. Therefore, those objects which are rare or unique and also highly unstable can be treated first. The survey’s goals of organizing conservation intervention and identifying areas of improvement in collections care has already proved useful, and several projects are underway to remedy the outdoor situation. The Museum intends to use the survey model to assess and compare its other collections using a conservator and relevant curatorial specialists. We present this survey tool as a potential resource for museums with large or varied collections to help organize collections care.

avatar for Lesley Haines

Lesley Haines

Assistant Conservator, The Mariners' Museum and Park
Lesley Haines is an assistant conservator at The Mariners’ Museum and Park, working primarily with the archaeological material raised from USS Monitor. She has been with the project for 3 years. She received an MSc in Conservation Practice from Cardiff University, Wales in 2014... Read More →


Hannah Fleming

Material Culture Specialist, The Mariners’ Museum and Park
Hannah Fleming is the material culture specialist at The Mariners’ Museum and Park. Her focus is in archaeological study and interpretation of the Museum’s collections, focusing mostly on USS Monitor artifacts. She has worked at the Museum for 4 years. She received an MA in History... Read More →

Wednesday May 15, 2019 4:15pm - 4:30pm EDT
Salon A2-A3, Uncas Ballroom Sky Convention Center, Mohegan Sun
  Specialty Session, Collection Care