The Monitorium

Partner exhibits bring offshore and distant sanctuaries to life. In 2017 and 2018, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary partnered with the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art and artist Wayne White to create a mixed media exhibit. The Monitorium depicted the people of the historic USS Monitor, a Civil War-era ironclad that changed naval warfare forever.

monitorium entrance exhibit, a cardboard figure of a monitor crew member

The Monitorium exhibit opens with art depicting Monitor's Confederate foe, the CSS Virginia, and the Union ship USS Congress during the Battle of Hampton Roads.


CSS Virginia


USS Congress

Visitors to the Monitorium experienced props and puppets depicting the story of Monitor and its crew. The exhibit brought viewers to Lincoln's Navy secretary, Gideon Wells, nicknamed "Neptune," as well as Captain John Worden and many of Monitor's crew members. At the exhibit's end, visitors watched Monitor sink during a storm in 1862. Survivors of Monitor's demise described its red lantern as the last thing they saw of the sinking vessel.

puppet of a man with a beard
prop of the interior of the monitor
puppet of captain of the monitor
puppet of crew member in a row boat
puppet of crew members sitting on the deck
puppet of a crew member holding a red lantern
prop of with the word: monitor and 1862
prop of the monitor sinking
prop of a red lantern

Photos: Kate Thompson/NOAA and Dayna Rignanese/NOAA