In 2006, McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory, Inc. conducted an objects conservation survey of artifacts at the Drake Well Museum. The survey will continue this summer of 2008 with an additional objects conservation survey of nitroglycerin well torpedoes and other metal artifacts in the collection.
The Drake Well Museum in Titusville, Pennsylvania (www.drakewell.org) preserves the history and the artifacts surrounding what is considered to be the world’s first oil well, drilled in 1859 by Edwin L. Drake. The museum and well site are located in Titusville, Pennsylvania, near the state’s Northwest corner. The museum’s collection of oil industry related artifacts in general and those specifically related to Drake’s pioneering well is enormous. The importance of this museum was recently recognized in The Drake Well Sesquicentennial Commemoration Act (H.R. 5883), introduced by Rep. John E. Peterson (R-PA) on July 25, 2006 that would “establish a commission to assist in commemoration of the discovery of oil at Drake Well near Titusville, Pennsylvania on August 27, 1859, and the resulting development of the American petroleum industry.”
McKay Lodge, Inc. has been a participant for many years as an objects conservation specialist in a contract between the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia (www.ccaha.org) and the state agency Pennsylvania Historical and Museums Commission (www.phmc.state.pa.us). This multi-year contract serves collection preservation and exhibition needs of Pennsylvania state museums. The work at Drake Well was provided under this contract. Metals specialists from McKay Lodge, Inc. have been working with the museum since 2003 on diverse preservation issues and especially developing a plan to preserve the outdoor machinery’s steel, mostly unpainted, from eventual loss by corrosion.
The objects conservation work at the Drake Well Museum was recently boosted by a grant from Save America’s Treasures (www.saveamericastreasures.org). This funding has enabled the additional objects conservation survey as well as numerous small and large-scale conservation treatments on artifacts by McKay Lodge, Inc. conservators.