2018 – It’s Going to Be BIG

When the calendar turns over to a new year there is always a sense of anticipation and excitement.  I think about 1.1.13 and the increasing excitement over the prospect of relaunching the Charles W. Morgan. 1.1.14 had us enthralled with the concept of sailing the Morgan again that summer to be followed by the opening of Voyaging in the Wake of the Whalers. On 1.1.15 we were planning to break ground that month for the McGraw Gallery Quadrangle project and the Thompson Exhibition Building, and on 1.1.16 there was the anticipation of the long awaited dedication of TEB in September 2016 and the arrival of Mayflower II in November for 30 months of restoration work.

2017 was the year we would be whole again: TEB was open with the stunning SeaChange; no construction; all exhibition galleries open; and come summer all ships in their places with Sabino back steaming again on the river. These are just a few of the highlights we anticipated each January of the last five years…..phew!

And so it might be natural to take a year to reflect on what the Mystic Seaport community has achieved. Would 2018 be that year?  Absolutely not and this is why: These last five years have been the culmination of a grand vision to reimagine the potential of the Museum, and our collective efforts have laid the groundwork for an explosive and memorable 2018.

For starters we will open three….did I say three?….new major exhibitions in the Collins Gallery alone, featuring two as international debuts and one as an American premiere. We open in January with John Grade’s (Gra’day) Murmur: Arctic Realities, a remarkable contemporary show blending Arctic geology, sculpture, and HoloLens technology to transport our visitors to the Alaskan tundra…..right here in Mystic.

This is followed by The Vikings Begin direct from Sweden and the Gustavianum Museum of Uppsala University, showing priceless treasures, including helmets, shields, weapons, glass, and other artifacts depicting how this maritime society lived more than a millennium ago.

Then, in the fall we welcome from England and Canada Death in the Ice – The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition. This amazing story of the failed John Franklin expedition in 1845 is shared in remarkable detail including artifacts recovered from his recently discovered ships Erebus and Terror. I highly recommend reading one of the many books on the Franklin exhibition that have been published over the years.  Resolute and Finding Franklin come to mind, but you might want to check out the new book Ice Ghosts.

Of the three remaining new exhibitions, I must highlight The Vinland Map, which opens the same day as The Vikings Begin but on its own in the Schaefer Gallery. On loan from Yale’s Beinecke Library, the controversial map will be on display in the U.S. for the first time in more than 50 years, allowing those who have followed the saga to actually see its primary evidence. We will engage historians, archaeologists, scientists, and other leading experts to share the map’s story, and discuss its out-sized role in modern American history.

Meanwhile, outside the McGraw Quad 2018 will find life and energy in all corners of the campus as well. We will see Draken Harald Harfagre still at Chubbs Wharf for a few more months and the Mayflower II in the Henry B. duPont Shipyard for another 18 months or so.  If you haven’t been by the yard recently, it is well worth the visit.  Once again, on the heels of the Morgan and Sabino projects, our shipwrights are doing amazing things that must be witnessed if one is to understand just how hard and how meaningful their work is.  All the new big timber is still exposed….seeing the stem and the stern post now is an unforgettable sight.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for 2018; it’s going to be memorable and certainly there is no better time to be a member than in 2018. Think of the value our interpreters, educators, collections managers, and exhibition departments bring to YOUR experiences here. As I like to say….only at Mystic Seaport!

See you at Murmur!