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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 

Bringing History to Life Through Innovative Technology

Posted By Crystal Douglas, Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Updated: Monday, March 26, 2018

Technology is one of the forces that drive our society forward. Museum exhibitions across the country are integrating modern technology to enhance the museum experience. By using resources like apps, 3D scanning, 3D printing, and virtual reality, exhibitions are coming to life. Experience design is revolutionizing the way we see the world, and the way future generations will see the world. Through innovative technology, our understanding of history is revolutionized through advanced interactions with artifacts on display.


At the latter end of 2017, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, California, pulled a 2,000 year-old mummy from their collection to take part in a project to bring history alive. The mummy had been brought to the museum in the 1930s. The museum wanted to know more about the mummy’s story by seeing what was under the wrappings without causing damage by unwrapping the form. Technicians at the museum combined a process of CT and 3D scans to examine the mummy internally. The 3D scans added depth and detail with dimension and color to the CT scan which enabled the scientists to see more of what was beneath the wrappings. The scans showed that the mummy was a little girl who passed away at five years old. Most of her internal organs had been removed but she was buried with jewels and necklaces that indicated she was from a wealthy family. The scientists named the girl “Sherit” which is Ancient Egyptian for “little one.” Finally, the scans gave the techs enough information to create a system that allows the museum guests to examine the mummy themselves. Guests are able to see beneath the wrappings by moving an iPad along the body. The innovation at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum has allowed its visitors to put faces to ancient names to gain a more personable understanding of our world’s remarkable history.


A local museum in Virginia has hopped on the experience design train as well. In 2014, one of our Top 10 Endangered Artifacts Honorees, the Rockbridge Historical Society (RHS) nominated a War of 1812 Cavalry Helmet worn by one of the Rockbridge Dragoons. In presenting the artifact to potential donors, RHS went a step further than providing a written description and a traditional photograph. RHS produced an innovative 3D model of the helmet. The 3D model allows viewers to get a more in-depth look at the helmet without handling or damaging the original artifact. Viewers can manipulate every inch of the model while reading about its details and current state. The 3D technology even allows the viewer to rotate the model to examine the inside of the helmet. RHS used interactive technology to create an experience that enhances personal understanding of the helmet’s construction and purpose. The experience goes beyond making one aware of the artifact’s deterioration. The experience brings the artifact to life through revolutionary technology allowing people to transform historic content into interactive storytelling.


Explore more!


3D model of calvary helmet

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Tags:  education  interactive exhibits  Rockbridge Historical Society  technology  Top 10 Endangered Artifacts  visitor experience 

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New Initiative Aims to Conserve a 2015 “Top 10” Nominee

Posted By Heather A. Widener, Thursday, August 4, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Friendship Fire Company was established in 1774, as the first volunteer fire company in Alexandria. The current firehouse was built in 1855, was substantially remodeled in 1871, and was restored by the City of Alexandria in 1992. The Company is home to historic fire fighting vehicles.


On display at Friendship Firehouse Museum is The Rodgers Suction Engine, built in 1851, and the Prettyman Hose Carriage, built in Alexandria in 1858. In particular, these two vehicles are in need of extensive conservation to preserve traces of their original appearance. Years of hard use have taken their toll; on one of the vehicles, frequent re-painting now masks what remains of the original colors and gilding, while the original paint has almost flaked away on the other. When fully conserved, the vehicles’ paint history will be stabilized and preserved for future generations to enjoy.


Friendship Firehouse Museum nominated the vehicles to the 2015 Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts program, designed to raise awareness of conservation needs throughout Virginia. While the vehicles did not earn a Top 10 designation that year, they are still in dire need of conservation. Now, The Friendship Firehouse Veterans Association and Office of Historic Alexandria are in the midst of one of a major fund-raising initiative. Proceeds from a Friendship Firehouse Fundraising Event on Friday, August 5th will benefit the preservation of these two important fire-fighting vehicles. Fundraising will be ongoing for the project, and donations are being accepted online.


The event begins with a special Curator’s Tour of Friendship Firehouse and the historic fire equipment. Remarks will follow the tour and conclude with a reception across the street at Taverna Cretekou. Event tickets start at $50 per person, with escalating levels of sponsorship. A one year membership in the organization is included in the price of the event ticket. Learn more.

Tags:  conservation  firefighting  Friendship Firehouse Museum  Historic Alexandria  preservation  top 10 endangered artifacts  Virginia Museums 

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The Archeological Society of Virginia’s Oldest Batteau

Posted By Rebecca Guest, Monday, June 29, 2015

I am excited to be back at VAM and assisting with the 2015 Top 10 Endangered Artifacts Program.  One of my favorite tasks last year was contacting past participants and researching artifacts featured in the program.  I am thrilled to share with the public more updates on past honorees.

In 2014, the Archeological Society of Virginia nominated Virginia’s Oldest Batteau to the Top 10 program.  From 1983 to 1985, during a construction project in downtown Richmond, Virginia, a number of historic batteaux boat remains were recovered in the Great Turning Basin of the James River.  Batteaux were large double-ended whitewater boats designed to float barrels of tobacco from upriver markets to Richmond, as well as other Fall Line cities.  Virginia’s Oldest Batteau was built between 1765 and 1780 and is an example of a boat builder’s craft before industrial construction.  The ASV helped break new ground, as its artifact along with two other artifacts nominated in 2014 were the first archaeological items featured in the history of VAM’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts Program. 


As a member of the Archeological Society of Virginia, I observed how the organization promoted its Top 10 honor this past year.  The ASV did an amazing job sharing the win with the general public.  Updates about the Top 10 achievement were shared via the ASV’s Facebook page, the win was discussed at its annual conference, and the group RVA Archaeology currently shares the batteaux story in its presentations.  After being featured in VAM’s Top 10 program, the ASV gained new members and supporters because of the batteau.  


I recently met with ASV member and Canal Boat Committee Chair Lyle Browning at the Archeological Society of Virginia’s 75th anniversary celebration held at Kittiewan Plantation in Charles City County.   Currently, Virginia’s Oldest Batteau and its resources are in the process of being donated to the Virginia Canals and Navigations Society.  Browning shared, “The ASV Board recently voted to donate all of the artifacts and their interest in the canal boat materials to the Virginia Canals and Navigations Society.  It was felt that VC&NS had a mission that was directly applicable to the materials.”


I learned during last year’s program that parts of Virginia’s Oldest Batteau were housed at the Pump House at Byrd Park in Richmond.  Browning explained, “The batteaux were disassembled to move them from the basin and are stored basically as wood pieces in 3 of the bays of the Byrd Park Pump House…The pieces have been stored in fresh water since retrieval from the Great Basin.”  While at Kittiewan, I was able to view artifacts in storage related to Virginia’s Oldest Batteau.  Browning showed me the batteau’s ribs, boxes filled with photos and paperwork from the dig site, and a 19th century packet boat hull.  Packet boats were used to haul packets and passengers across Virginia’s rivers and canals.  The packet boat hull was an impressive piece of iron and originally measured 90 feet long.  The artifacts I viewed at Kittiewan, along with the pieces at Byrd Park Pump House will move in time to the Batteau House near Lynchburg, Virginia, as part of the ASV’s donation to the VC&NS.  


Thank you to Lyle Browning and the Archeological Society of Virginia for updating VAM on Virginia’s Oldest Batteau.  For more information on the ASV and its projects across the state, visit its website at  For Facebook updates, visit  To learn more about the Virginia Canals and Navigation Society, visit its website at  
Photo Captions
1. Virginia’s Oldest Batteau under excavation in the 1980s in Richmond, VA.
2. Batteau ribs in storage at Kittiewan Plantation.
3. Lyle Browning showing Rebecca Guest a 19th century packet boat hull in storage at Kittiewan.

Lyle E. Browning.  E-mail message to Rebecca Guest.  August 9, 2014.  
Lyle E. Browning.  E-mail message to Rebecca Guest.  June 4, 2015.
Lyle E. Browning.  Interview with Rebecca Guest.  Personal interview.  Charles City, June 13, 2015. 
Lyle E. Browning, Stephanie Jacobe, and Elizabeth Moore.  Virginia’s Oldest Batteau.  Nomination form for Virginia’s 2014 Top 10 Endangered Artifacts Program.  2014.  

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Tags:  archaeology  ASV  batteau  museums  RVA  top 10 endangered artifacts  VAM  Virginia 

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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.  

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Tags:  Top 10 Endangered Artifacts  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).

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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.

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Tags:  midwife records  Salem  Top 10 Endangered Artifacts  Virginia 

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