The Mariners' Museum, which preserves the Civil War-era USS Monitor, is running out of federal funds, setting back decades an opportunities for the public to see artifacts from the historic battleship.
The museum, located in Newport News, Va., is home to the USS Monitor's turret and more than 200 tons of Civil War artifacts, according the Associated Press.
Cuts in funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has forced museum officials to forgo the restoration process for the time being.
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The Mariners' Museum is considered a private museum but was also designated by Congress to be the official repository for the USS Monitor's artifacts. Museum officials said that the museum cannot raise the necessary funds to operate the facility.
The Washington Post reported that the museum closed the Monitor
laboratory that contained the ship's artifacts earlier in the month. The museum said in a statement that it cost about $500,000 last year for the conservation of the Monitor's artifacts.
The museum is asking for assistance to open the laboratory again.
"I am not writing this because I have friends who work there or have worked there in the past," said David Krop on the USS Monitor Center blog on Jan. 10.
"I am not writing this as a crusade because the Monitor is a legendary ship. I am writing this for the sake of history. After all, what do we have to look forward to in our future if we do not do the work to remember the past? This is a critical blow to Civil War fans worldwide, especially during this sesquicentennial commemoration."
Museum president Elliot Gruber said in a statement that even though the museum is private, it has the responsibility of preserving American military history.
"These are federal government artifacts," Gruber said. "Providing the funds for their wellbeing should be the responsibility of the federal government."
He added that the federal budget cutback "has placed a tremendous strain on our budget over the last several years."
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