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Mystic Seaport's Tug:
From our collections:
|Map Location: 50|
This exhibit that was shown in the R.J. Schaefer Building brought the fascinating story of American tugboats to Mystic Seaport.
Every day tugboats move millions of tons of cargo, escort cruise ships, save lives during maritime disasters, conduct environmental clean-ups, and salvage wrecks. Yet, many people still think of tugs as the cheery, coal-smoke bellowing little ships from children's storybooks. This exhibit explored this "invisible industry" of maritime towing, a key component of every cargo port in the country, from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon. It introduced the kinds of work that tugboats do and how they've changed over the past 150 years in their design, operation, and use. Visitors also learned why today's tugs are stronger, safer, and more efficient than ever, and how tugs might change in the future.
The exhibit explored key themes such as:
The history, present, and future of tugs and towing in America
The many types of tugs and their different jobs
The vital role of the tug and barge industry in the U.S. economy
Tugs' relevance today in light of globalization, port and homeland security, and the push for clean energy within the transportation industry
The place of tugs in popular culture, from children's books to music
Important innovations in tug design, propulsion, and engineering
The jobs aboard a tug and the people who perform them
Inspiring stories historic tugs that have been saved and restored by individuals and organizations
The exhibit included several interactive components, including radio-controlled model tug demos and workshops, a mock tug bridge, a CAD design work station, and hands-on activities exploring the physics of propulsion and bollard pull.
A colorful, inviting exhibit designed for family audiences and school groups, but with plenty of content to satisfy even the most knowledgeable maritime expert, it included hands-on activities as well as material drawn from Mystic Seaport's rich collections–historic photographs, paintings, models, and manuscripts about important tug-related people, places, and events.
The Museum hosted visiting tugboats on our waterfront campus, and developed interpretive programs for visitors of all ages.
"We're thrilled with all the interest and support we've received for the Tugs exhibit," said Jonathan Shay, Director of Exhibits & Interpretation. "This exhibit built upon research and planning done over several years, including a symposium we hosted for tugs enthusiasts in March 2007."
This new exhibit is made possible thanks to a $149,000 grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) as well as generous individual donations and in-kind support. IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Its mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas.
With leadership support from The Dibner Fund in hand, Mystic Seaport hopes to match the IMLS grant funds in total.
American Tugboat Review
American Waterway Operators
Ocean Tug & Barge Engineering
Thames Towboat Co.