Sailing the Morgan
Seascapes: Spring 2010
INSPIRATION! Mystic Seaport believes that inspiration should be at the very core of important museum work, and that applies to staff, scholars and visitors alike. These days nothing provides more pure inspiration than the Charles W. Morgan herself. Over the past several months, the Museum, as well as its members and guests, has been abuzz with excited conversation regarding the prospect of the Charles W. Morgan going to sea again post-restoration. As you are undoubtedly aware by now, the Museum’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to authorize the Museum staff to continue with its planning to sail the Morgan on a ceremonial 38th voyage in 2013, having agreed that it is both feasible and responsible to undertake such a venture — without a doubt, a bold and decisive decision.
Even to the casual museum visitor, the image of the Morgan floating down the Mystic River and eventually setting sail for New Bedford and beyond stirs up both romantic and historic emotions. The question remains: why would Mystic Seaport undertake such an enormous venture — why bother?
While the feature article within answers that question more fully, I will offer here that we must because with this restoration and renewed strength, she becomes the vessel through which the Museum connects America — in a most authentic and compelling manner — to a significant aspect of its maritime and economic roots. It reminds us and allows us all to consider, through dialogue and action, some of the challenges that America faced over a century and a half ago in the midst of the Industrial Revolution.
Great museums are expected to push the boundaries of interpretation and to engage the public in “conversations” about its past and the relevant human condition. We believe that restoring and sailing the Charles W. Morgan is potentially the fullest expression of the Museums’s dual responsibility of stewardship and education, giving us the unique chance to demonstrate what we have learned over time about what our ancestors faced as they sailed in search of solutions to our nation’s challenges and needs.
To visit the Morgan today as she sits in the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard is an inspiration in itself. To witness the careful restoration by our skilled staff inspires one to want to help in some meaningful way. I, for one, cannot get enough of it and am truly inspired by the work and by the notion that in 2013 she, our Charles W. Morgan, will once again live as the ship she was built to be. I hope that you will also find inspiration in this voyage and find a way to help our effort.
One final thought on inspiration: what other organization has the skill, talent and resolve to restore a 19th-century vessel AND to sail her again? You know the answer, as you are a proud member. Please spread the word, and thank you for your unfailing support!
See you on the Morgan,
Stephen C. White