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Where are They Now? Virginia's Endangered Artifacts Revisited
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The purpose of Where are they Now? Virginia's Endangered Artifacts Revisited is to tell the stories of endangered artifacts and the museums that seek to preserve them. You'll find success stories, continuing challenges, and interesting twists in the tales of these significant cultural treasures.


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Top tags: Top 10 Endangered Artifacts  conservation  Top 10 Endangered Artifacts nominee 2011  Virginia  Virginia Association of Museums  Virginia's Top 10 Endangered Artifacts  Civil War history  education  MacArthur Memorial  preservation  Virginia Museums  Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum  archaeology  art  ASV  batteau  Confederacy  firefighting  Friendship Firehouse Museum  graffiti  Helen Angeny  Hermitage Museum and Gardens  Historic Alexandria  history  Hoffbauer  interactive exhibits  internment camps  Liberia House  Lynchburg  Manassas 

My Top 10 Internship: A Parting Summary from Summer 2014

Posted By Rebecca Guest, Thursday, August 28, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, August 27, 2014
My summer internship with VAM is sadly coming to an end.  I have enjoyed working closely with this year’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts Program.  I am so proud of the work that was accomplished this summer.  I want to take a moment and share some of the results that came out of my internship.  

On day one, I started contacting past participants of the Top 10 Program.  Through e-mails and phone calls, I learned the status of Virginia’s endangered artifacts.  Thank you to the organizations that embraced my inquiries.  From the locomotive that received a $10,000 grant to the artifacts that are still waiting to be conserved, these updates help share public awareness for preservation efforts.  If you are an organization that previously participated in the Top 10 Program, VAM wants to hear from you!  Please share any updates on your artifact.  The following chart outlines a few of the positive developments that have occurred since these artifacts were nominated to the Top 10.  VAM is working on research to track the status of all Top 10 honorees (please note that this is a working list and will continue to be updated!).  


Top 10 Year



Booker T. Washington National Monument


Photographs with cellulose nitrate negatives, 1957-1984

Film is currently being conserved in a freezer.

Hermitage Museum & Gardens


Korean 18th century Sakyamuni Triad silk tapestry

Repatriated back to Korea and is currently being conserved. Future plans include public display.

Klug-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia


Yolngu Bark Painting by Narritjin Maymuru, depicting Djarrakpi Story (Indonesian Trader Ship)

Currently being conserved and will be on display at UVA soon.

The Mariners’ Museum


USS Monitor’s Revolving Gun Turret

Currently in conservation. An estimated 18 years of work needs to be completed. Fundraising is needed.

Virginia Museum of Transportation


Norfolk & Western SD45 Diesel Locomotive #1776


Received $10,000 grant from Trains Magazine toward improvements to Locomotive #1776 thanks to its People’s Choice recognition.

Warren Rifles Confederate Memorial Museum


Confederate Battle Flag of Co. B, 6th VA Cavalry


Artifact has been conserved and is on display.

The Fairfield Foundation


Ware Neck Store Sales Receipts; c. 1870s-1930s

Documents cleaned and placed in proper storage. Artifacts scanned by VCU’s Virtual Curation Laboratory. Experts are assisting with the project.

Salem Museum


Records of African-American Midwife, Georgianna Saunders; c. 1916-1940


Records being transcribed and put in a database. People delivered by Georgianna Saunders have contacted the museum.

Tudor Place Historic House & Garden


George Washington’s Revolutionary War Camp Stool; c. 1776

Conserved by the Historic Trades Department of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, through a collaborative research project with the Museum of the American Revolution in association with Tudor Place.

Wilton House Museum


Waistcoat of Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood; c. 18th century


Artifact is currently being conserved.

MacArthur Memorial


World War II Filipino and U.S. Guerilla Unit Flag, c. 1940s

A donor has funded the preservation. The flag is being restored and will be on view by March 2015.

St. John’s Church Foundation


Reverend Robert Rose Monument, 1751

A volunteer is working on the monument and is making progress. The foundation has been in touch with descendants of Robert Rose and hopes to invite the family to visit.

I was happy to help motivate organizations to participate in this year’s Top 10 Program.  I called, e-mailed, and even visited museums and cultural institutions leading up to the Top 10 submission deadline.  Not only did new organizations nominate artifacts this year, but they also joined VAM as new members.  I am thrilled that I was able to assist with applications and encourage new membership.  This year’s Top 10 Program saw the most nominations to date.  Thirty-six museums and cultural sites participated in the program this year.  It was incredible to see the long list of nominees! 

Several organizations invited me to visit this summer.  I visited the Pamunkey Indian Museum and Cultural Center, the Fairfield Foundation, the Middle Peninsula Chapter of the Archeological Society of Virginia, the USS Monitor Conservation Lab, the Mariners’ Museum, and the Muscarelle Museum of Art.  Thank you to the directors, docents, and volunteers for welcoming me.  I enjoyed observing all the artifacts and interacting with staff members.  I appreciate everyone’s kindness.  I look forward to visiting all the organization’s that extended an invite to me over the next year.   

Although my internship at VAM is coming to a close, my museum journey is just beginning.  I am in my final year at VCU.  I am excited about graduating this spring with a degree in history.  I am preparing to apply to graduate schools and search for employment.  I recently became a VAM member.  I am planning on using my membership to aid my museum career. Thank you to the entire VAM staff and board members for your support during my summer internship.  Words cannot express how grateful I am that VAM chose me for this amazing opportunity.  I am appreciative of all your feedback and words of encouragement.  I will cherish the lessons I learned this summer.  This internship strengthened my interest in museum studies and public history.  I am confident that this is the right career path for me.  

1. Working at the VAM office.
2. Viewing Chief Paul Miles’ Regalia at the Pamunkey Indian Museum and Cultural Center in King William County.
3. Observing the Fairfield Foundation’s 1883 Excelsior Cook Blast Stove at its lab in Gloucester County.
4. Observing copper alloy treatment at the USS Monitor Conservation Lab in Newport News, VA.  

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  Top 10 Endangered Artifacts  Virginia Association of Museums 

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Korean Tapestry Repatriated, Conserved

Posted By Heather A. Widener, Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Updated: Thursday, August 21, 2014
One of our most incredible Top 10 stories comes from Norfolk. The Hermitage Foundation Museum and Gardens nominated their beautiful Korean tapestry to the program in 2011. The tapestry was designated a Top 10 Endangered Artifact. Then something incredible happened. Our Top 10 news reached South Korea. You read that right. South Korea. Officials there recognized this as an artifact that had at one time been cut out of a temple setting. They immediately contacted the folks at The Hermitage, and a new 'history' of this precious, old object unfolded from there. Read the Hermitage Foundation Museum and Garden's blog to learn more about this incredible story!

Tags:  Hermitage Museum and Gardens  Top 10 Endangered Artifacts nominee 2011  Virginia Association of Museums 

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The USS Monitor’s Revolving Gun Turret

Posted By Rebecca Guest, Wednesday, August 6, 2014

For the past few months, I have researched all the artifacts featured in the Top 10 Endangered Artifacts Program.  I have read nomination forms, books, and internet search results to prepare for phone interviews and e-mails with past participants of the program. In 2011, the USS Monitor’s revolving gun turret was chosen as a Top 10 Endangered Artifact.  I recently talked to David Krop, director of the USS Monitor at the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, VA.  He shared with me updates on the Monitor and its revolving gun turret.  

The USS Monitor was the first ironclad steamship commissioned into the United States Navy.  The Monitor played an essential role in the Battle of Hampton Roads during the American Civil War.  On March 9, 1862, the Monitor fought the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia.  This battle ended in a draw, “Though indecisive, the battle marked the change from wood and sail to iron and steam.”  The Monitor would later sink during a storm off the Cape Hatteras Coast in North Carolina. 

The Monitor wreck site was discovered in the Outer Banks in 1973.  In 1987, the Mariners’ Museum was designated as the official repository for the Monitor artifacts.  The Monitor’s revolving gun turret weighs 120-tons.  It currently sits in a 90,000 gallon treatment tank that promotes electrolysis and desalination. 

Since being featured in the Top 10 Program, the condition of the turret has improved.  Krop explained its progress, “The turret is doing very well in conservation, but we estimate another 18 years of remaining treatment.  The electrochemical process to remove salt is going well and this will make the Monitor more stable.  We will also have to remove part of the turret roof during treatment.  Fundraising to support conservation and exhibition is one of our major goals. The artifacts convey unique stories and raise awareness of the importance of USS Monitor to our nation’s history.”

When the Monitor sank on December 31, 1862, four officers and twelve crewmen lost their lives.  Archaeologists and conservators have discovered within the turret artifacts that belonged to these men.  Krop mentioned, “The turret is a single artifact…but we recovered over 500 additional artifacts inside of the turret.  For a gun turret that is big and complex, it was filled with personal artifacts.  It contained hundreds of items such as clothing, buttons, and pencils.”          

The Top 10 Program is a great tool to help re-introduce history and conservation efforts to the general public.  Krop shared, “…the Top 10 Program was an eye-opener for people that did not know about the Monitor.  It was a great way to teach them about the turret and its artifacts.  The Top 10 Program helped The Mariners’ Museum promote the Monitor and her stories to a wider audience.”

Thank you to David Krop for updating VAM on the USS Monitor and its revolving gun turret.  For more information on the USS Monitor’s conservation, visit the Monitor Center’s blog at  For Twitter updates, visit @USSMonitorLab.    


  1. The Monitor on the James River, July 1862.  Photo courtesy of Historic Naval Ships Association.

  2. The Monitor’s Wet Lab with the rim of Monitor's armored gun turret just visible above the edge of the tank.  Photo courtesy of the Mariners’ Museum.

  3. An overhead picture of Monitor's gun turret prior to removal of the guns and carriages. The turret has an inside diameter of 20-feet.  Photo courtesy of the Mariners’ Museum.


Historic Naval Ships Association. "USS Monitor." (accessed July 20, 2014).

Krop, David.  Phone Interview with Rebecca Guest.  Personal interview.  Richmond, July 3, 2014. 

The Mariners' Museum. "Conservation of USS Monitor's Revolving Gun Turret Webcam." (accessed July 20, 2014).


The Mariners' Museum. "The Monitor Center History." (accessed July 20, 2014).

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  Mariners' Museum  Top 10 Endangered Artifacts  USS Monitor 

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The Salem Museum’s Midwife Records and Ship’s Flag

Posted By Rebecca Guest, Monday, July 14, 2014

Since 2011, Virginia Association of Museum’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts Program has helped bring attention and awareness to museums and cultural sites across the commonwealth.  For the past two years, the Salem Museum located in Salem, VA, has benefited from Top 10 press.  The museum nominated artifacts in both 2012 and 2013.  In 2012, VAM honored the Salem Museum’s records of midwife Georgianna Saunders.  I recently talked with John Long, director of the Salem Museum.  He updated me on the museum’s Top 10 participation.

Georgianna Saunders was an African-American midwife working in Salem during the early 20th century.  Saunders recorded and maintained the birth records for lower-income families in the community, “Seemingly self-taught and with no official medical training, Saunders delivered hundreds of children, black and white, in Salem, and surrounding areas…Saunders typically delivered babies from the lower socioeconomic levels, and diligently kept records on every birth she attended.”  The records were originally going to be used as kindling for a woodstove.  A concerned donor discovered the records, realized their historical importance, and donated them to the Salem Museum.

Georgianna Saunders’ records were written in pocket-size registers and on several loose scraps of paper.  The booklets are fragile and the museum is currently working to digitize the collection.  John Long shared with me the current state of the records, “We are working to have the midwife records transcribed.  This project is almost done.  All of this work has been done by a volunteer.  We are still working to create a database for the records.  We want the general public to see and have access to these records.” 

After being featured in the Top 10 Program, no less than 7 people contacted the museum and provided oral histories and memories of ‘Aunt Georgie.’  Long shared with VAM these interactions, “One man, Mr. Wright, came by to see if he and his siblings were in the registers.  They were, and we made copies of the records for him, much to his delight.  Interestingly, Saunders made an error on his record, listing his mother’s name as the baby’s.  Mr. Wright then spent an hour with me sharing memories of growing up in Salem and reliving his youth through our exhibits, and promised to leave us his collection of local memorabilia in his will.”   

Long praised the Top 10 Program and the recognition the Georgianna Saunders records have received.  He wrote in his column in the Roanoke Times, “Some yellowed scraps of paper or old tattered textiles seldom garner media attention.  You sometimes haves to wrap them up in a Top 10 list to get a reminder of the constant threat to the rare and informative items held in public trust.”

Last year, the museum nominated a ship’s flag flown during the 1944 invasion of Normandy on World War II troop transport USAT George W. Goethals.  Once again, participating in the Top 10 Program brought incredible press to the museum.  Long remarked, “The ship’s flag received great PR.  One man that served on the ship after World War II visited us.  He brought newsletters from the ship to share.  We created a YouTube video for the flag.  We’ve had great reaction to this video.  Soldiers and families related to the ship have contacted us after seeing this video.  This has brought additional materials on the ship to the museum.”  The ship’s flag is currently on display in the Salem Museum’s D-Day exhibit.  The flag helped generate a huge donation that helped fund this exhibit

John Long continues to praise VAM and the Top 10 Endangered Artifacts Program.  He mentioned, “Our members and our community really rally our troops.  Our historical society plays a huge role in participating in these types of programs.  In our museum, we have a few hundred objects on display at any given time.  But, in our back storage, we have almost 7,000 objects in our collection.  We have nothing but good things to say about VAM and its help.”

Thank you to John Long and the Salem Museum for updating VAM on its past Top 10 nominations.  For more information on the Salem Museum, visit its website at

Long, John.  “Midwife’s precious records.” The Roanoke Times, September 13, 2012.
Long, John.  Phone Interview with Rebecca Guest.  Personal interview.  Richmond, June 26, 2014.
Long, John.  The Georgianna Saunders Midwife Records.  Virginia Association of Museums Top 10 Endangered Artifacts Nomination Form, June 22, 2012. 
Newton, Christina.  “Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts.”  Lecture.  Connecting to Collections Exchange, Salt Lake City, October 4, 2012. 

1. The midwife records of Georgianna Saunders.  Photo courtesy of the Salem Museum.

2. The ship’s flag from World War II troop transport USAT George W. Goethals.  The museum set up a voting station during the 2013 Top 10 voting period.  Photo courtesy of the Salem Museum.

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  midwife records  Salem  Top 10 Endangered Artifacts  Virginia 

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Anne Spencer House & Garden Museum's Mosaic Tiles

Posted By Rebecca Guest, Thursday, June 26, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Over the past few weeks, I have enjoyed contacting past participants of the Top 10 Endangered Artifacts Program.  I have spoken on the phone and exchanged emails with historians and museum professionals across the state of Virginia.  I have learned how the Top 10 Program has helped and motivated participating organizations. 

I recently had a conversation with Shaun Spencer-Hester of the Anne Spencer House & Garden Museum, located in the City of Lynchburg.  In 2011, the first year of the Top 10 Program, the museum nominated a mosaic tile in its collection by Amaza Lee Meredith.  Meredith was an artist and architect practicing in Virginia in the 1930s.  She was an African-American woman and true trailblazer for her generation. 

Amaza Lee Meredith studied at Virginia State College for Negroes.  Later named Virginia State University, Meredith founded and directed her alma mater’s arts department in 1935.   She ran the department from 1935-1958.  Near the university, she designed and built her home, “Azurest South.”  Designed in the International Style, the home was both modern and unique in Virginia at the time.  Meredith resided in the home with her partner and fellow VSU professor, Edna Meade Colson. 

Inside the home were mosaic tiles painted by Amaza Lee Meredith.  A remaining tile was featured in the Top 10 Program.  Meredith gifted the handmade mosaic tile piece to her relative, poet and civil rights activist Anne Spencer.  According to Shaun Spencer-Hester, “It is especially designed and personalized by Meredith and themed with Spencer's published poem Lines To A Nasturtium. The tile work is an independent piece of art that once covered the walls in ‘Azurest South.’”  Unfortunately, the mosaic tile continues to fall apart.  Spencer-Hester remarked, “Since being featured in the program, the tile was hanging in our museum over the mantle.  Recently, we had to take it down because it is deteriorating.  The tile is breaking and it is powdery.” 

The tile remains endangered as it waits to receive additional care.  Nomination to the Top 10 Program did bring new attention to the Anne Spencer House & Garden Museum.  Shaun Spencer-Hester shared, “The people that I motivated to vote were excited to vote for this piece.”  The museum was featured in this year’s Garden Club of Virginia booklet.  Since its publication, 630 new patrons have visited the museum.  The museum is also scheduling an article with This Old House next spring.  The Anne Spencer House & Garden Museum has been recognized for its community activism and historic importance in Lynchburg.  For the past 37 years, it has been run by an all volunteer non-profit organization.    

Thanks to Shaun Spencer-Hester and the Anne Spencer House & Garden Museum for updating VAM on the mosaic tile by Amaza Lee Meredith.  

1. “Azurest South” in Southern Chesterfield County. Photo by Isaac Harrell.
2. Amaza Lee Meredith.  Photo Courtesy of Virginia State University.

Kollatz Jr., Harry. "Amazing Amaza: Looking beyond Virginia with Azurest South." Richmond Magazine, June 28, 2012.
Spencer-Hester, Shaun.  E-mail message to Rebecca Guest.  June 23, 2014. 
Spencer-Hester, Shaun.  Phone Interview with Rebecca Guest.  Personal interview.  Richmond, June 12, 2014. 
The Library of Virginia. "The Library of Virginia African American Trailblazers 2009: Amaza Meredith (1895-1984), Lynchburg and Petersburg." The Library of Virginia African American Trailblazers 2009. (accessed June 22, 2014).

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  Top 10 Endangered Artifacts nominee 2011 

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