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A Way with Wood: Celebrating Craft
This summer and fall the Collins Gallery in the Thompson Exhibition Building is the host of a new exhibition, A Way with Wood: Celebrating Craft. The show introduces visitors to the many ways people transform one of nature’s most malleable materials to objects of utility, art, and beauty.
At the core of the exhibition is a boat-restoration and boat-building demonstration staffed by the Museum’s shipwrights. At times, their work in the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard, at the other end of campus, can be hidden from public view or can only be observed at a distance. For this exhibition, the shipwrights take center stage and are carrying out different projects over the course of the show. The first is a restoration of Afterglow, the tender to the Museum’s schooner Brilliant. Following will be the completion of a restoration of the Woods Hole spritsail cat Sandy Ford, and then the construction of a new dory for the L.A. Dunton. Little to no power tools will be used; the focus will be on work using hand tools.
Complementing the shipwrights’ work is a section where outside artisans will be invited in for periods of time to set up shop to practice and share their craft with the public. This changing stable of craftsmen might feature a variety of different disciplines: wood carving, furniture making, sculpture, and model making are some of the possibilities.
Throughout the gallery, there will be displays of objects from the collections, such as rare tools, unique carvings, small boats, photographs, and other artifacts that illustrate the wide range of ways wood has been shaped by the artisan’s hand.
The displays in A Way with Wood will change as new projects, artisans, and objects rotate in and out. The exhibition is intended to evolve over time and provide different views into the world of craftsmanship and wood.
“Warm, renewable, flexible, strong – the remarkable qualities of wood have appealed to countless generations, making it the traditional go-to material for crafting boats, buildings, docks, and furniture,” says Director of Exhibits Elysa Engelman. “We’re excited to be using our largest and newest gallery to show-off our staff skills and collection connections, by celebrating woodcraft and the craft of woodworking in a maritime setting.”