Taking the Helm
Seascapes: Spring 2009
Mystic Seaport. In my initial days of assuming the helm of this remarkable institution, I have come to appreciate ever so deeply the significance and importance of what those two words represent to all who know her. It is with this developing understanding that I earnestly approach my role as primary steward for our mission, our collection, and our community. It is truly an honor to assume the leadership of such a significant institution, and with this comes my commitment to assiduously fulfill our mission of connecting America and the sea in an engaging and memorable manner. In the time following my appointment and before assuming the office, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that almost all with whom I spoke had some knowledge of the Museum, many with deep connections.
My move to Mystic follows a long career in education, most recently as Headmaster of Fay School in Southborough, MA, and it marks a return to my childhood roots on Maine’s Penobscot Bay. There I sailed on the family Friendship sloop, Sarah Mead, where I developed my love for all-things maritime. Combining these two perspectives gives me a compelling opportunity to purposefully address what our founders considered to be their primary objective: to be “educational in its purpose, national (and sometimes beyond) in its scope, and an inspiring force for the future.” While preservation is a key core value to Mystic Seaport, so too is inspiration, which must be central to all-things educational. These shall be my mantra moving forward.
The Charles W. Morgan project clearly has captured the attention and interest of the Museum community, locally and farther afield. Beginning with the haul out in November and now with the restoration work well underway, the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard is alive with significant activity. The Morgan serves as an important icon for us and is an active symbol for the critical role the Museum plays in preserving important elements of America’s history while allowing the public to see such work in action. Please make sure that a visit to the Shipyard is on your itinerary for the spring.
Over these initial days since my appointment, I have had the opportunity to read all sorts of Museum literature and to meet many members of the Museum community, including staff, volunteers, trustees, neighbors, and friends. Their collective expertise, vision and dedication serve as an inspiration to me as I press forward to learn and then to lead. Doug Teeson has been enormously helpful in providing insightful guidance and perspective, and a breakfast with former president J. Revell Carr in New Mexico served as a great history lesson. Many thanks to them both!
As members of Mystic Seaport, you are critically important to the Museum’s future success, and I hope that you will return to Mystic Seaport again soon and be re-inspired! I look forward to seeing you.
Stephen C. White