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Conservation Laboratory

The Conservation Laboratory at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is a year-round artifact treatment facility that is open to the public during the museum season. The lab is currently working on preserving artifacts from a variety of regional archaeology projects. Lake Champlain Museum visitors have the rare opportunity to see conservation as it happens, and to ask questions about the treatment process.

In addition to its educational value, the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s Conservation Laboratory is available to assist institutions in the assessment and stabilization of their historic and archaeological collections. The laboratory is staffed with trained professionals and volunteers who are dedicated to the long-term preservation of historical objects.

Boy Scout Archaeology Merit Badge

Scouts from Vermont Troop 624 visit LCMM's Conservation Laboratory to earn their Archaeology Merit Badge
Scouts from Vermont Troop 624 visit LCMM's Conservation Laboratory to earn their Archaeology Merit Badge.
See more photos and read about their visit in our Blog article "Troop 624 Visits LCMM".

Are you a fan of Indiana Jones? Want to learn how to clean iron using electricity? Interested in finding out more about the shipwrecks here on Lake Champlain?  Your Boy Scout Troop can earn their Archaeology Merit Badge right here at LCMM with Conservation Technician and Merit Badge Counselor Alex Lehning. Discover more about the history and archaeology of our region, discuss the various methods used by our nautical archeologists to explore underwater, learn about different treatment methods for artifacts, and even perform your own hands-on conservation project in our state-of-the-art Conservation Lab. Learn more about specific badge requirements.

Boy Scouts and adult leaders are invited to contact us at (802) 475-2022 or for more information about scheduling a visit.


Ongoing Conservation Projects

Sloop Island Canal Boat

LCMM conservators work on a woolen coat from the Sloop Island canal Boat
LCMM Conservators work on a wool coat
from the Sloop Island Canal Boat.

During the past two field seasons, the Lake Champlain Maritime has been involved in the recovery of over 300 artifacts from a canal boat wreck. The canal boat, which operated in the early twentieth century, was carrying a cargo of coal at the time of its demise. The conservation lab has been actively preserving a number of intriguing artifacts from the wreck, including what is believed to be a pregnant woman’s wool coat. Many tools, ceramics, dishes, and other household items are being conserved as well. The canal boat is one of the last of its class to operate on the lake, and with further research, it will hopefully tell us more about canal boat life, something that hitherto little has been known.

Lake George Battlefield Park

Spade and button recovered from the
Lake George Battlefield Site.

The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum has been involved in conservation contract work for the Lake George Battlefield Park (Fort George) Alliance, New York State Museum, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Finding objects in context, and studying them, can tell us a lot about life in the past. By preserving the objects they can be kept intact for future generations to learn from and enjoy. Among the artifacts being conserved include iron shot, clothing fasteners, a shovel blade, and several regimental brass buttons. It is hoped that the continued preservation and analysis of these objects will shed additional light on understanding the complex history of Fort George.

Fort Ticonderoga Conservation Project

Swivel gun recovered from Fort Ticonderoga.

The conservation lab has been contracted to stabilize artifacts recovered from Fort Ticonderoga including a swivel gun, brass frying pan, barrel hoop, and two coin-like objects. Documentation is an important part of the conservation process. To ensure that details of each artifact are noted and recorded, all the artifacts have been drawn and digitally photographed. Once completed, the artifacts will be returned to Fort Ticonderoga where they can be viewed by the public.

Quackenbush Square Parking Facility Conservation Project

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is pleased to assist Hartgen Archaeological Associates, Inc., with the stabilization of two large wooden vats and a section of the wooden plumbing system recovered from the Quackenbush Square Parking Facility Archaeological Site in Albany, NY. The archaeological research at Quackenbush Square is sponsored by The City of Albany, NY, the Albany Parking Authority, and the Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Inc. The LCMM conservation staff is in the process of treating the wooden artifacts from a mid 18th to early 19th century Still-House (1750–1810). Treating this wood is a challenging process that involves bulking (introducing a stabilizing material into) the wood cells to decrease/prevent shrinkage, checking, and cracking, which may occur during the dehydration process. Treatment is expected to take up to two years to complete.

Marl Pond Dugout Canoe

Dugout canoe from Marl Pond.

The Lake Champlain Basin Program is also providing funding for the preservation of a dugout canoe which was found on the shore of Marl Pond, near Sutton Station, Vermont in 1997. Since that time, it has been stored on the bottom of North Harbor here at the LCMM. The conservation and analysis of this rare artifact has begun and it is hoped that it will add a considerable amount of information to our understanding of dugout vessels built and used in Vermont.