The Mariners’ Museum is temporarily closing the 5,000-square-foot Wet Lab that houses the American Civil War ironclad USS Monitor’s gun turret and other large artifacts following the Dec. 31, 2013 expiration of an agreement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA's) National Marine Sanctuary Program. The priceless artifacts inside this lab, recovered from the wreck of the USS Monitor, are federally-owned and administered by NOAA's Monitor National Marine Sanctuary but conserved by staff from The Mariners' Museum.
NOAA is waiting on Congress’ approval of a budget to determine what funding to make available this coming year. NOAA and The Mariners’ Museum are working together to ensure that funding is in place to continue this important conservation work. The lab will re-open once funding is secured.
In 2013, it cost approximately $500,000 for The Mariners' Museum's international team of conservation experts to preserve these complex and highly unstable artifacts. NOAA provided 10 percent of funding, and no funding was designated in 2012, the 150th anniversary of the Monitor’s historic clash with the Confederate ironclad Virginia in Hampton Roads. The Museum remains committed to its long-term conservation goals and its partnership with NOAA. But without additional funds from NOAA, conservation work will not be able to proceed.
The USS Monitor's artifacts and stories are irreplaceable threads in the fabric of our American heritage. You have a voice. Make yourself heard.