NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -

Next weekend marks the anniversary of the Battle of Hampton Roads, a pivotal moment in U.S. naval history.  More than 150 years later, the preservation of many priceless artifacts is on hold.

In 2011, WDBJ7 visited The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, where a conservation team was working to preserve the turret, engine, guns and other large pieces of the USS Monitor.

Now much of that work has been suspended, because of federal budget cuts.

We spoke with the museum's President and CEO Elliot Gruber via Skype.

"The important point is not just conserving it," Gruber told us. "The point is that we really need to take those items from the USS Monitor, put them on display and tell these phenomenal stories as it  relates to the brave men who fought on the Monitor who also went down with the Monitor in 1862."

More than 2600 people have signed an online petition encouraging members of Congress to fund the conservation work.  And Gruber says he's optimistic that talks with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will allow the work to resume.

Despite the budget cuts, USS Monitor exhibits remain open, and the Mariners' Museum will commemorate the Battle of Hampton Roads with special events next weekend.