New and Improved for Summer

The arrival of June and the summer season is always an exciting time at the Museum, and this year is no exception–in fact, summer 2015 is shaping up to be quite remarkable. Fresh on the heels of a very successful Salute to Summer and Decoration Day, we enter hard at work to open a series of exhibits this month that will provide a new and enhanced experience the next time you visit.

As part of the McGraw Gallery Quadrangle project, the exhibit spaces in the north end of the grounds are undergoing significant change. The most momentous is the opening of the new exhibit, “Voyaging in the Wake of the Whalers”, in the Stillman Building on June 20. This expansive, 4,400 square-foot exhibit is a fresh retelling of the story of American whaling from its very beginnings in the Colonial Era to the present day. Using collections artifacts and artwork alongside compelling audio-visual elements, immersive displays, and thought-provoking interpretation, the exhibit will push past the traditional conceptions of whaling to show the richer and deeper stories of the peoples, places, ships, and whales that impacted and were impacted by whaling. The exhibit will also incorporate elements from the Morgan’s 38th Voyage last summer, including some of the work of the 38th Voyagers.

But that’s not all! The Benjamin F. Packard Ship’s Cabin is being reinstalled in the second floor of the Stillman Building. Its previous location, a former mill outbuilding, had to be demolished to make way for construction of the new Thompson Exhibition Building. The Cabin was carefully taken apart and then installed in a specially-designed frame in the new gallery. Plans call for additional artifacts and interpretation to expand the exhibit to tell the broader story about the coasting trade the Packard represents.

The Figurehead exhibit in the Wendell Building is also getting a much-needed facelift. New lighting and paint will show the artifacts to their best advantage and improve what is always a crowd favorite. Both the Packard Cabin and the Figurehead exhibit will open on June 20 concurrent with the “Voyaging in the Wake of the Whalers” exhibit opening.

We are also excited about our updated Discovery Barn, where children and families can engage in a new series of interactive activities themed around our Grand Banks fishing schooner L.A. Dunton, which explore the scientific principles behind hull shape, sail power, stability, and how simple machines make work easier at sea. It is open on the weekends until June 20, when it will be open full-time. It is already a big hit with visitors.

We are very excited to share with you these new features, but do not worry, your regular favorites are still on the schedule. The Sea Music Festival will bring musicians from around the world June 11-14 to celebrate and perform the music of the sea for the 36th year, and the WoodenBoat Show returns bigger and better than ever June 26-28.

With all of this going on, how could you not stop by this month? We look forward to seeing you.

Steve White