15 trucks of wood and the best place to spend a summer day!

Before you “turn the page” to another article, I just have to ask you a question: have you been to the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard lately? I mean, have you really spent some time there? These days, as the restoration project gathers even more momentum, visitors will find the Shipyard just abuzz with activity. We are now in the stage of large timber work – very large – as futtocks are prepared and then become members of the frames within the Morgan. You can watch the process from start to finish (with the exception of the actual futtock placement). It’s amazing to see our talented shipwrights at work as they exercise their craft out in the public eye. Saws, adzes, and planes are all at work fashioning these futtocks that will hold together the Charles W. Morgan for another century and more. And when finished, the heavy members are moved carefully into their final home in the hold. Everywhere you look you can see wood in one form or shape, waiting for its moment to make history and to preserve the last of her kind. Equally as fascinating is the wood that is coming out of the Morgan. You can see piles of old futtocks that have been removed, proudly showing the history of their 169 years as members of the Morgan‘s sustaining frame. This is special, indeed, and worth going back to day after day. Stay tuned for special tours this fall that will give you a behind the scenes view of our restoration work.

Shipbuilding wood unearthed at the Charlestown Naval Shipyard, Boston, MA.Breaking news about wood….15 truck loads of it! Old timber from Charlestown, MA comes to the Shipyard. Excavation was taking place at a sight in Boston near the old Charlestown Navy Yard. While digging, they uncovered large timbers buried in the mud which were once part of a “Timber Basin” from the Navy Yard. The site is to be a rehabilitation hospital, part of the Spaulding Hospital Complex. It seems as if the site was filled around 1912, making this some pretty old wood. Much of it is live oak, some white oak and a couple of other species as well. Futtocks from this cache are already being placed in the Morgan!

Last month I wrote about the Museum’s new mission, core values, and vision, and I promised to share with you the goals that direct our future work. But first, an update from the VRC.

I’m happy to report that we had a great month of June with respect to programs and attendance. Of course, the WoodenBoat Show was a tremendous success and the new exhibit, TUGS!, was pulling in big numbers. Overall, our attendance was up 8.8%, following a May that was up 2% as well. So, we’re off to a very strong start, and we remain hopeful for a standout year. However, with the state of Connecticut reducing its marketing budget to just $1.00, we and our fellow tourism dependent organizations have had to go it alone this year, which presents hefty challenges for us all. It’s looking like July is setting up to be a soft one across the state and including MSM, given the hot weather and the lack of advertizing, so we are busy implementing new strategies to counter balance these external realities.

These sorts of challenges make effective planning all the more critical, and a goal of any plan must be to create the foundation for the organization to be as self-sustaining as possible. In this new economic world post 2008, organizations must embrace new thinking that reaches beyond the typical boundaries of an entity as it has been known and that will create a pathway for a more dynamic future. In that spirit, the strategic planning team developed the following goals in support of our mission and vision:

To Do Great Museum Work:

  1. Utilize a comprehensive maritime collection that educates and inspires.
  2. Lead the museum community in maritime education and scholarship.
  3. Create environments that foster an unforgettable and inspirational maritime museum experience.

To Sustain Our Work:

  1. Create and maintain a model for financial sustainability based on identified priorities.
  2. Strengthen the Museum’s public standing within the museum, educational, civic, and corporate communities.
  3. Create a comprehensive organizational development plan.
  4. Develop the physical plant to support to key elements of the vision.

While the objectives, tactics, and tasks in support of these goals are comprehensive (and lengthy!) in nature, we have distilled them down to four key initiatives that cut across all these goals and thus will be our priorities now and for the coming year(s). They are:

  1. Develop the Charles W. Morgan restoration and preparation for the 38th voyage to its fullest potential across all departments. The success of the Charles W. Morgan project will be the manifestation of the key principles in the Plan.
  2. Initiate a comprehensive marketing plan to highlight how the Mystic Seaport experience can influence the lives of first-time visitors and members.
  3. Commence planning to showcase exhibitions and programs in a state-of-the-art facility
  4. Create bold and contemporary delivery systems for our wealth of content
  5. Enhance the process and procedures for philanthropic efforts that are integrated with other strategic priorities.

As you can see, there is a great deal of work ahead for the Mystic Seaport family, but with our combined efforts and dedication to the envisioned future, I’m confident that we will see an even stronger Museum emerge from these economic doldrums.

Steve