About Mystic Seaport Museum

exterior of thompson exhibition building

Mystic Seaport Museum is the nation’s leading maritime museum. Founded in 1929 to gather and preserve the rapidly disappearing artifacts of America’s seafaring past, the Museum has grown to become a national center for research and education with the mission to “inspire an enduring connection to the American maritime experience.”

The Mystic Seaport Museum grounds cover 19 acres on the Mystic River in Mystic, Connecticut, and include a recreated New England coastal village, a working shipyard, formal exhibit halls, and state-of-the-art artifact storage facilities. The Museum is home to more than 500 historic watercraft, including four National Historic Landmark vessels, most notably the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan, America’s oldest commercial ship still in existence.

A stroll through the historic village enables visitors to experience firsthand from staff historians, storytellers, musicians, and craftspeople just what life was like to earn one’s living from the sea. In the Henry B. du Pont Preservation Shipyard, shipwrights can be observed keeping the skills and techniques of traditional shipbuilding alive as they restore and maintain the Museum’s watercraft collection and other vessels.

The Museum’s 41,000 square-foot Collections Research Center (CRC) offers exceptional physical and electronic access to the more than 2 million artifacts. The collections range from marine paintings, scrimshaw, models, tools, ships plans, an oral history archive, extensive film and video recordings, and more than 1 million photographs—including the incomparable Rosenfeld Collection. The CRC is also home to the G.W. Blunt White Library, a 75,000-volume research library where scholars from around the world come to study America’s maritime history.

To share the experience this physical record represents, Mystic Seaport Museum employs a diverse staff of scholars, librarians, historic interpreters, educators, scientists, musicians, and skilled artisans. The Museum’s educational philosophy has three parts: onsite, on board, and online. Students at all levels are invited to come to the Museum to participate in a unique learning experience, whether as part of an elementary school field trip, a college semester with the Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program (a partnership with Williams College), or a graduate seminar with the Munson Institute. Sail training is offered through Community Sailing Programs or on a voyage aboard the 1931 schooner Brilliant. The Museum has also developed an innovative Mystic Seaport for Educators website, where students and educators can utilize digital access to the collections to help shape new learning tools and bring the American maritime experience into their classrooms.

For more than 90 years, visitors, students, and scholars have turned to Mystic Seaport Museum to preserve and interpret America’s maritime experience. The Museum’s commitment to that mission is as strong as ever.

Public History
At Mystic Seaport Museum, we strive to create an environment where visitors not only learn from us, but we learn from them. The concept is called Public History and it allows our visitors to experience history in ways they haven’t before.