A Busy Winter

Shipyard Director Quentin Snediker and Morgan Historian Matthew Stackpole discuss the Charles W. Morgan restoration with visiting scholars at the January charrette.

Shipyard Director Quentin Snediker and Morgan Historian Matthew Stackpole discuss the Charles W. Morgan restoration with visiting scholars at the January charrette.

Although the front gate has been closed, it has been far from a quiet time at Mystic Seaport this past month. On any given day a walk through the grounds would require you to dodge trucks from the roofers, HVAC contractors, dock builders, tree trimmers, painters, film crews, Pine Point School apprentices, scholars, and a host of other vendors and groups at work on the campus. We used the access the public closure offered to do all sorts of maintenance and activities we normally would not be able to do when visitors are enjoying their trip back to a coastal village circa 1876–and the place looks great!

So does the Charles W. Morgan. The shipwrights have maintained their work schedule throughout the month and one can see progress daily. After erecting a protective housing around the vessel, the shipwrights started work removing and restoring the outer planking, re-timbering the stem, and re-framing and planking portions of the transom. It is exciting to see this new stage of the project take off.

Of course, the work of a museum involves not just hammer and nails, or in the Morgan‘s case mallets and trunnels. With the help of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, the Museum invited 14 eminent maritime scholars to come to Mystic and help us plan the programming around the vessel’s 38th Voyage® in 2014. The two-day “charrette” was an opportunity to gather leading experts from a variety of fields — history, literature, marine biology to name just a few — in one room to discuss the Morgan, what she means, and what she should tell the world when she sets sail again in two years. It was a lively discussion and everyone walked away with new insights into what an 1841 whaleship can teach us.

Over in the Collections and Research Center the curatorial and exhibits staff is putting together our new exhibit, “Treasures from the Collections,” set to open March 31. We are calling it the “best of the best” from our Collections: more than 200 seldom-seen artifacts; each one telling a special story about our maritime heritage. And in Brooklyn, NY, the artists of the Dalvero Academy are assembling their show of artwork for an April debut in the Stillman Building. Their task was to interpret the Morgan in a unique way, and from what we have seen so far they have truly succeeded. It should be a groundbreaking exhibit for Mystic Seaport.

With all of these exciting projects in the works, we are anxious to open our doors and share it with you. To kick off the 2012 season, we will be throwing a winter festival Saturday, February 18. “Winter’s Aweigh” will feature ice carving, a “create your own museum” exhibit (you will have to come and see for yourself what that is), Newfoundland dog demonstrations, horse-and-carriage rides, and, of course, all the great things Mystic Seaport always offers.

I hope you can join us!

Steve White