The Launch and NEH Grants

The 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan on the Museum's shiplift awaiting her launch.

The 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan on the Museum’s shiplift awaiting her launch.

According to Ric Burns, it was “the first totally good thing I’ve been to in 10 years” as he opened his keynote address at the launch on July 21. (I’m curious what the last one was?) If you were there on the grounds, on the river, or online, I think you would agree with his assessment. In short, it was a tremendous day for Mystic Seaport and the Charles W. Morgan. It was an electric atmosphere with the combined energies of the staff, members and guests, and the speakers, all who were there to pay tribute to the Morgan and all that she symbolizes. Whether a descendant of mariners or whalers or a citizen of the United States, she stood for us and the spirit of American enterprise of the past and of the present. It was the Morgan’s moment of rebirth as several speakers pointed out. How proud we were that afternoon of the Museum; how proud we are of the shipwrights and so many more who have made possible her restoration and her return to the river.

The good news and reason for celebration continued post launch with the confirmation of the second grant-in-aid of $500,000 from the State of Connecticut in support of the Morgan’s restoration. Further, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced that Mystic Seaport would be the recipient of a special chairman’s grant of $450,000 in support of public programming and exhibitions related to the Morgan and her 38th Voyage. This significant grant from NEH allows the staff to begin formalizing the means by which we will tell all the important maritime and cultural stories embedded within the Morgan’s history and the upcoming voyage itself. The NEH also announced on the same day a grant of $164,280 to support the 2014 NEH Summer Institute “The American Maritime People” at our Munson Institute, a maritime studies program for 20 higher education faculty members from around the country. It is this sort of support that validates our work and also enables the Museum to fully express its strength as a leader in its field. Bravo to all involved in the grant writing and in program development!

In the coming months there is much to accomplish with respect to the restoration of the Charles W. Morgan and the preparation for the 38th Voyage beginning May. The next phase of restoration began 24 hours after her launch and after she was moved to her new home on the north side of the lift dock. The Launch Committee has been put to bed, and now already meeting are the program committees, port partner committees, and voyage logistics committees. Work across the grounds continues in support of the needs of the voyage, and imaginations stir in anticipation of what is to come. As future milestones become firm, we will be sure to inform you, but in the meantime, please visit the Morgan in her new berth at the Shipyard and feel her move once again, buoyed by her new bottom. We will need a tremendous amount of assistance as we engage this next phase, and we are grateful to all who have already supported this history-making initiative.

Steve White