Growth and enhancement of the Museum continued in the 1950s with the arrival of the coasting schooner Australia in 1951 and the schooner yacht Brilliant in 1952. The Mariner Training Program expanded, with the Brilliant taking groups of sea scouts on week-long coastal cruises. With the grounds stabilized behind stone bulkheads, attention turned to shaping the waterfront street as buildings were moved in or built. In 1955, “activists”—now called interpreters—began to work in the exhibits to explain the historical context and significance of the exhibits and artifacts. By the late 1950s the Museum had 6,000 members and was hosting a quarter of a million visitors a year. More than 1,000 private boats tied up at its piers in July and August 1956. To preserve the period flavor of the site, visitor parking was moved from the present site of the Village Green to locations across the street.
1950 Office of Volunteer Services established.
First Dyer Dhow Derby.
1951 Buckingham House arrives by barge from Old Saybrook, CT.
Staff now 27 full-time, 14 part-time.
Admission $.75 Adults, $.25 Children.
1952 Briggs Cunningham presents schooner-yacht Brilliant.
S.S. United States sets transatlantic speed record.
1953 Guided tours of the Museum offered for the first time, led by college students.
Summer – Brilliant begins weekly cruises for Mariner Training Program.
1954 Mystic Seaport twenty-fifth anniversary celebration events held.
Hurricanes Carol and Edna damage Museum.
21 January ~ First nuclear submarine, Nautilus, launched on the Thames River in Groton, CT, eight miles from Mystic Seaport.
1955 First session of Munson Institute of American Maritime History summer graduate program.
Summer ~ Exhibits “activated” with live attendants; beginning of live interpretation at Mystic Seaport.
1956 First use of containerization as means of shipping goods globally.
1957 Evidence of Charles W. Morgan stern windows, hidden since 1890s, discovered. Windows and original stern decoration replaced.
Staff now 60 full-time.
Admission: $1.50 Adults, $.25 children.
1958 3 August ~ Nuclear powered submarine Nautilus “achieved the impossible” by reaching the geographic north pole—90 degrees north.
First commercial transatlantic jet flight.
1959 Spring ~ South parking lot opened, replacing parking area on present Village Green. First attempt to preserve period mood by isolating Museum from auto traffic.
International Treaty makes Antarctica a scientific preserve.
The completion of the nearby interstate highway 95 offered convenient access for visitors from the major markets between New York and Boston. By 1968—the year the Museum was featured in National Geographic Magazine—more than half a million visitors arrived. During this period of expansion the Planetarium, Seamen’s Inne, Mildred C. Mallory Memorial Membership Building, G.W. Blunt White Library, and the expanded Museum store were opened. In 1964, the fishing schooner L.A. Dunton joined the Museum’s fleet of historic vessels. With such success came fears of overextension, especially as the growing fleet of large vessels exceeded the Museum’s ability to care for them. The small shipyard and marine railway opened in 1957 could not keep up with the needed work. The ferryboat Brinckerhoff, which had come in 1950, was let go in 1961. The Australia was hauled ashore for work in 1961 and never returned to the water. Additional vessels were passed on to other organizations to reduce the size of the growing fleet.
1960 14 May ~ Planetarium opens.
Mystic River Diorama (scale model) construction begins.
1961 Fall ~ Beginning of local school sailing classes.
1962 Opening of Doctor’s Office, Hoop Shop, Print Shop, and Weave Shop exhibits.
Rachael Carson's Silent Spring published.
1963 September ~ L.A. Dunton purchased in Grand Bank, Newfoundland.
Male exhibit staff costumed for the first time on Museum grounds.
1964 Almost 3,000 visiting boats tie-up at the Museum during the summer.
Cooperage exhibit opens.
1966 Charles W. Morgan becomes a Registered National Historic Landmark.
1968 Mystic Seaport featured in National Geographic Magazine.
New Shoreham Life-Saving Station arrives by barge from Block Island, RI.
1969 Museum President Waldo Johnston travels to Europe and Scandinavia to observe ship preservation techniques.
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