From the President
Kicking Off a New Year
With the simple turn of a page on the calendar, Mystic Seaport closed its fiscal year Saturday, April 30, and opened a new one the next day. What a year FY 2016 was! Attendance was robust with a 13 percent increase; stellar exhibitions drew many repeat visitors; member visitation was the strongest in years (thank you members!); the McGraw Gallery Quadrangle was completed and the Thompson Exhibition Building rose with its remarkable shape; the Annual Fund hit a new high; and the Museum in Motion capital campaign hit $13 million assisted by the great news of a $2 million grant from the State of Connecticut. These are just some of the accomplishments over the past 12 months, which give the Museum exciting momentum going into FY 2017. Many thanks to the staff, volunteers, members, and trustees for their roles and efforts in making this past year such a success!
On May 20, we will dedicate the McGraw Gallery Quadrangle in memory of the late Donald C. McGraw, Jr. He will be remembered for his extraordinary philanthropy and his commitment to the mission of Mystic Seaport. From his gifts to endowment to his generous gift of Buttersworth paintings and his leadership of the Museum’s National Council of Advisors, Don believed in all aspects of Mystic Seaport and wanted to ensure that our role as the “Museum of America and the Sea” was fulfilled.
On May 21, we open the new exhibition in the R.J. Schaefer Building, “Over Life’s Waters: The Coastal Art Collection of Charles and Irene Hamm.” Sixty-three stunning paintings represent just a portion of the Hamms’ collection, which they meticulously gathered over their lifetime together. It includes works from America’s finest maritime artists and will treat us to memorable images of the sea and shore. A resident of Mystic on Mason’s Island, Charlie has been a trustee of Mystic Seaport for many years so we are all the more thrilled to host this new exhibition organized by the New Britain Museum of American Art that follows the successful “Ships, Clocks & Stars,” now on its way to Sydney, Australia.
Just one week ago, Dana Hewson and Susan Funk joined me for the annual conference of the Council of American Maritime Museums (CAMM), hosted this year by the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation in Wilmington, DE. Created in 1974, CAMM serves as an important network for maritime heritage advocates. The three-day conference allows for opportunities to learn from each other and to see what is happening in the field. I’m happy to share that the state of affairs for maritime museums and affiliates is strong. Adjustments to programming continue across the maritime museum community in an effort to respond better to changing audiences and age groups. For example, the common theme in many of the presentations was the focus on families and interactive opportunities for children. Maritime museums across the country provide some very compelling experiences today, and I encourage you to visit a CAMM member institution. (Visit https://councilofamericanmaritimemuseums.org/ to see the list.) Of course, there is also a great deal of attention being paid to collections and vessels, and everyone was quite curious about our ongoing work on the steamboat Sabino, schooner Amistad, and Mayflower II.
We are poised for a most engaging spring and summer, and I hope that you’ll visit Mystic Seaport often. See you on the grounds!