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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) — When the turret of the USS Monitor was hoisted from the ocean floor in 2002, the real heavy lifting was just beginning.

That would be conserving and restoring more than 200 tons of Civil War ironclad artifacts. The task went to The Mariners' Museum in Newport News.

But diminishing federal dollars have darkened a lab containing the revolving turret and other large pieces, closing to the public a window on the nation's maritime history and delaying possibly by decades their public display.

The museum has seen a steady decline in annual funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration amid budget cuts and shifting federal priorities.

Museum officials say the funding decline has slowed conservation work on the turret and other artifacts. They say they are not at risk.

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