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H.L. Hunley Conservation Lab

Charleston, South Carolina

Civil War Combat Submarine


During the Civil War, the Hunley became the first ever combat submarine to sink an enemy ship! It mysteriously sunk and was lost 4 miles off the coast of Charleston. The sub was discovered in 1995 — and later raised in 2000.  Since then, the Hunley has been excavated and is in the process of being conserved in the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston. The Center is a large warehouse equipped with a special tank for the vessel and a conservation lab. Scientists and conservators have worked for fifteen years trying to solve the mystery of the Hunley.


A Unique Museum Experience


Our goal was to tell the history and context surrounding the Hunley, as well as educate visitors on the ground-breaking conservation work that has been developed right on site! Collaborating closely with the Friends of the Hunley team, we designed, fabricated, and installed this educational and interactive exhibit space.

When a visitor enters into the museum, they enter into pre-Civil War Charleston. The exhibit graphics and materials contribute to the “look and feel” as the story of the Civil War and of the Hunley is told through timelines, memorabilia, and imagery.


Interactive Exhibit Components


After learning a little more about the sub, visitors are led into a dark theater room. A custom-made crew bench behind a large crank invites them to sit and become the last Hunley crew, re-living the Final Mission through a 6 minute interactive animation. 


Conservation of the Hunley


The second half of the exhibit focuses on the raising of the Hunley and its conservation since then, including a scaled section of the truss that lifted the vessel out of the water, a kiosk system to display the research behind discovering the crew’s identities, a lift simulation to bring the vessel out of water, and a large vitrine to house clay reproductions of the crew members.




Architecture: The Cornerstone Company of Charleston, Terry Weeks


Animation: Cory Livengood and Mack Garrison of Dash Studio


Models: Three Bee Studio, Kelly Sheppard Murray


Friends of the Hunley

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