From the President

First, I must commend our membership director, Cheryl Mattson, for creating and continually enhancing this e-newsletter for our members and friends. It has now become a regular, dependable piece of our communication repertoire, and given its depth and reach, the time has come for me to contribute to each issue. Thus, this is the first of what will be a regular column, giving me a chance to comment on timely matters at Mystic Seaport. I hope that you will enjoy our monthly e-newsletter, and please feel free to forward it to family and friends who might like to know more about the goings on at the Museum of America and the Sea.

Latitude 41We all know that food is a critical component to any community, whether it be a family or in our case a museum. This fall Mystic Seaport partnered with a new food service provider to address the various and far reaching needs of our members, visitors, and staff. After a lengthy search and interview process we eventually chose the outstanding local favorite, Coastal Gourmet. Well known for their high quality at Mystic Markets (East and West); catering business, Stonington Meadows; and Old Saybrook restaurant, Aspen, we believe that Coastal Gourmet has the culinary talent and the customer service to satisfy your diverse needs at the Galley, Schaefer’s Spouter Tavern, and Latitude 41° (formerly Seamen’s Inne). We had two goals as we entered the selection process: find a food service provider that would 1.) demonstrate a commitment to a high degree of partnership and belief in our mission, and 2.) make the quality of food their primary objective. There is no doubt in my mind that you will see a great difference in these two areas and thus in the dining experience at Mystic Seaport in 2010. The Galley opened this winter with a delicious lunch menu (I have yet to sample it all!), and Latitude 41° opens to the public on April 27th with a contemporary menu prepared by Chef James Klewin in beautifully renovated space thanks to V.P. Bill Parent and our Facilities Department. See you there!

Another major initiative for the institution is to develop a strategic plan for Mystic Seaport. Last summer, a team of staff and trustees began the comprehensive planning process. The goal is to create a Plan that will provide direction and structure for decision making that will best position the Museum for success. Every element of the institution, from mission to daily practice, has been evaluated and discussed, and in the late fall a framework for Mystic Seaport’s future began to emerge. This draft was presented to the Board for consideration and feedback in January, and the team is now preparing a final draft for Board review in May.

Charles W. Morgan RestorationThe Plan will ask a great deal of the community. It will ask us to embrace a mission and vision that will lead the Museum to a new future but require changed habits and a different perspective. It will ask us to challenge long held beliefs and to consider bold initiatives, such as sailing the Charles W. Morgan again. It will ask donors to support far reaching goals, and it will invite the participation of new constituents. For the past month, we engaged staff from all sectors of the Museum to help us complete the Plan by adding specific tasks that will help achieve the vision.

The challenge for the team is: how do we best achieve greatness as a maritime museum yet build a stronger financial foundation? Falling short of either goal is unacceptable, yet fully attaining both will prove to be our greatest challenge and will require the combined talents of all who comprise this great community. I wish I could share with you here the meat of the plan, but first the Board must ratify it in word and in spirit. I can assure you, however, that the plan holds on to some of the long standing core values and does not represent a radical shift for America’s preeminent maritime museum. Furthermore, it seeks to maximize the potential of the existing strengths, such as the depth and breadth of our collection, while shifting the underlying philosophy and methodology to significantly influence the newer generations. You will see that it is ambitious, and I think you will agree that it will represent what you expect a great museum to do. Stay tuned for further updates this summer.

So that’s it from me for this e-news. Spring is here, so please be sure to schedule you next visit to Mystic Seaport! Sneak preview for next month? TUGS is coming!!