When I asked the editor if he had a suggested theme for “Seascapes,” he offered that it would come to me from the overall content of this issue of the magazine. One look at the painting by Anthony Davis and the answer was there.
Taking one’s time – to linger, to pause, to appreciate – is a skill that is difficult to exercise, perhaps now more than ever. How fortunate we are to have a place like Mystic Seaport where “taking one’s time” is valued, if not required.
It has long been the mission of Mystic Seaport to attend to the broad education of its visitors and members, both young and old. Today our educational programs span kindergarten to post-graduate levels in our effort “to inspire an enduring connection to the American maritime experience.”
It was on July 21, 1841 at 10 a.m. that the Charles W. Morgan was launched from the Hillman Brothers Shipyard in New Bedford to join her many “sister” ships in the first great global industry.
Something has been gnawing at me lately. I am burdened by the realization that, while we are the stewards of a nationally significant collection, Mystic Seaport is also largely responsible for keeping our nation’s great maritime traditions alive and vibrant, and seeing to it that they are passed forward to our rising generations.
Mystic Seaport represents many things to its 17,000 members and 275,000 visitors, but I suspect that there are two predominant elements that define us to most: boats and water…and we have an abundance of both!
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.
Visitors come to Mystic Seaport for numerous reasons — to research in the Collections Research Center, to spend quality time with family, to view a new exhibit on a favorite topic, to be part of an engaging, authentic community — but many are unsure just what to expect from this must-see national treasure. After all, Mystic Seaport isn’t a typical museum.
These days organizations are fixated on restating and interpreting mission statements, a vitally important process, to be sure. But I wonder if more attention shouldn’t be given to the spirit of an institution? A mission statement, after all, no matter how meaningful and well drafted, will ring hollow without being fully complemented by institutional spirit.
As you can see, the message from the President has changed to Seascapes from Sightings. Those of you who have gone to sea and those who have stood at the shoreline dreaming of a destination beyond the horizon know well the reflective places to which the seascape transports us.