Mystic Seaport Receives Maritime Heritage Grant

Ship's cabin from the BENJAMIN F. PACKARD.

Ship’s cabin from the BENJAMIN F. PACKARD. This will be the centerpiece of a new long-term exhibit.

The National Park Service announced today that Mystic Seaport is the recipient of a National Maritime Heritage Grant.

The Museum is one of 27 recipients in 13 states and the District of Columbia who will collectively receive $1,752,073 in grant awards. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD), the National Park Service awarded grants for projects that teach about and preserve sites and objects related to our nation’s maritime history.

“Protecting our nation’s maritime history is an important part of the National Park Service’s mission to share America’s story,” said Acting National Park Service Director Michael T. Reynolds. “These grants will support efforts to conserve important parts of our maritime history and educate students of all ages.”

Mystic Seaport was awarded $49,959 to support development of “From Clippers to Containers: The Benjamin F. Packard and the History of U.S. Deepwater Cargo Transport,” a long-term exhibition that will deliver to a broad public audience important historic content about the changes in the maritime cargo trades from the mid-19th century to the present.

The centerpiece of this exhibit will be the recently reinstalled cabin from the Down-Easter Benjamin F. Packard which Mystic Seaport salvaged in 1939 before the ship was scuttled. The Packard ship’s cabin is a favorite with visitors because of the immersive experience: “beyond-the-ropes” access allows visitors to walk into the dining area, parlor, and captain’s stateroom, an ornate Gilded Age setting complete with velvet settees and burled wood panels. This unique artifact is an ideal vehicle to frame the history of American merchant vessels.

In addition to the compelling story of the Packard, the exhibition will focus on the evolution of American cargo handling and deep water trade using examples of various vessel types to illustrate the changes in society and technology that occurred over time. “From Clippers to Containers” will use interactive technology as well as ship models, period paintings, photos, and other artifacts to illustrate these stories.

The National Maritime Heritage Program Grant awards are made possible through a partnership between the two federal agencies, which both share a commitment to maritime heritage preservation and education. They are funded through recycling of vessels from the MARAD’s National Defense Reserve Fleet. The grant program supports a broad range of maritime education and preservation projects, without expending tax dollars, while ensuring that the vessels are dismantled in an environmentally sound manner.

For a complete list of the recipients and the award amounts please see the National Park Service press release.