The Mystic Way
The Museum said farewell to one of our longest serving and most beloved staff members at the end of April. Dana Hewson, Vice President for Watercraft Preservation and Programs and the Clark Senior Curator for Watercraft, retired after 39 years at Mystic Seaport.
It is hard to know where to start in trying to sum up Dana’s contribution to the Museum and to the maritime preservation field.
Dana has worked at Mystic Seaport since 1977, when he started as a Vessel Maintenance Supervisor, the first full-time shipkeeper hired by the Museum. From that position, he began to develop and refine our maintenance and preservation program to its present status as a model for all maritime museums.
Dana moved through the positions of Director of the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard and Vice President of Watercraft Preservation and Facilities Management to his last position of Vice President of Watercraft Preservation and Programs. He also originated the position of Clark Senior Curator for Watercraft.
As the Clark Senior Curator, he provided direction and leadership in the preservation and development of the Museum’s watercraft collection, which presently numbers more than 500 vessels of all sizes. The Museum is home to everything from small rowboats and kayaks to four National Historic Landmarks, including the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan.
He oversaw all vessel-oriented curatorial functions and related waterfront activities and all watercraft programming: the Museum’s Docks division, small craft programs, steamboat Sabino, schooner Brilliant, and related watercraft events.
Dana was involved with the Amistad Project from the earliest planning stages through its construction, launch, and delivery. He led the Morgan restoration and her subsequent 38th Voyage in 2014. During his tenure the Museum acquired and restored the 1947 Eastern-rig dragger Roann, and restored numerous vessels from the collection, including the 1880 sandbagger Annie and the 1908 steamboat Sabino.
He is a recognized international authority on the practices and techniques of watercraft preservation and was a principal contributor to “The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Vessel Preservation Projects.” (Office of the Secretary of the Interior, 1990)
Through all of those accomplishments, Dana has led with quiet humility and thoughtfulness. He is the embodiment of what we call “The Mystic Way.” Coined by the late trustee Waldo Howland, the term describes our philosophy: if a job needs to be done, no one can do it better and more economically than we can. That mantra built the Shipyard, constructed the waterfront bulkhead, restored and sailed the Morgan, and so much more.
I am personally most grateful for all of the knowledge Dana generously shared with me and for all of the lessons I’ve learned from him over the last eight years. We all wish Dana the best in his retirement and hope that collectively we will fill his very big shoes.
To that end, we are excited to welcome Chris Gasiorek as the new Vice President for Watercraft Preservation and Programs. Chris is a professional mariner with extensive experience off- and onshore. He holds an unlimited tonnage master’s license from the U.S. Coast Guard, and he has served on tugs, bulk carriers, research ships, training ships, and racing yachts; and he has circumnavigated the world twice. Chris was the Director of Watercraft Operations and Training at the USMMA from 2007 to 2014, where he oversaw the operation of more than 100 vessels ranging from the 224-foot Kings Pointer to sailing dinghies. We look forward to him joining us next month.
I am also pleased to announce Quentin Snediker succeeds Dana as the Clark Senior Curator for Watercraft. As the Director of the Henry B. DuPont Preservation Shipyard, Quentin should need little introduction. His knowledge of preservation techniques and maritime history is beyond extensive, and we know the watercraft collection will be in excellent hands under his leadership.