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Oceanus: Alexis Rockman

Alexis rockman: Oceanus

Inauguración el 27 de mayo de 2023

Alexis Rockman: Oceanus es una importante exposición que se inaugurará en mayo de 2023 en el Museo Mystic Seaport. La muestra incluirá diez acuarelas de gran tamaño y una pintura panorámica de 8 por 24 pies, todas ellas encargadas por el museo para formar parte de su colección permanente. El proyecto representa un cambio de perspectiva en el museo cuyos objetivos son el aumentar la conciencia y fomentar conversaciones sobre los problemas globales críticos a los que se enfrentan nuestros océanos debido al impacto de las actividades marítimas como parte de nuestro patrimonio colectivo cultural, social y económico.

La obra central, Oceanus, llevará al espectador en un viaje de descubrimiento global bajo los cambiantes mares del mundo, entrelazando habilidosamente la historia natural, la arqueología, la aventura, el análisis político y la ciencia en una historia sobre la condición humana. Oceanus presenta veintidós embarcaciones, dieciséis de las cuales fueron inspiradas en modelos de embarcaciones de las colecciones del museo. Los barcos y buques presentados ayudan a mostrar la historia de la actividad humana en relación con el océano, incluyendo sus vínculos directos con la explotación de los recursos en las aguas del mundo. Las diez acuarelas, con sus grandes extensiones de intensos colores fluidos, exploran algunos de los problemas más urgentes de nuestro tiempo, desde la crisis de biodiversidad, la contaminación y las especies invasoras marinas hasta la extinción y el cambio climático.

Oceanus también servirá como ancla en una iniciativa del museo para educar a los visitantes sobre las especies marinas invasoras. A lo largo de la exhibición, se llevarán a cabo programas y se brindarán oportunidades educativas que aprovecharán los muchos recursos del Museo y de organizaciones asociadas para abordar la ciencia y el impacto de este problema tan urgente.

Museo Mystic Seaport se ha comprometido a preservar nuestro patrimonio marítimo mundial. Con ese objetivo en mente, este proyecto y sus notables obras fomentarán debates críticos sobre la crisis que todos enfrentamos. Esto inspirará una conversación productiva y nos llevará a replantear lo que ha sido y será nuestro legado marítimo.

La exposición estará acompañada por un libro de 160 páginas titulado Alexis Rockman: Oceanus, publicado por Rizzoli y el Museo Mystic Seaport, que incluirá entrevistas y ensayos de expertos en la materia como Robert D. Ballard, Christina Connett Brophy, James T. Carlton, Sylvia A. Earle, Michael R. Harrison, Alexis Rockman, Helen M. Rozwadowski y Nari Ward. 

ALEXIS ROCKMAN: OCEANUS es posible, en parte, gracias al generoso apoyo de los miembros del Museo Mystic Seaport. Para suscribirte y para obtener más detalles acerca de las oportunidades de patrocinio, comunícate con Chris Freeman enviando un correo electrónico a chris.freeman@mysticseaport.org.

Fish & Forrest

Fish & Forrest

Through the Lens of a Commercial Fishermom

On Exhibit Through June 18, 2023

Corey Wheeler Forrest is a third generation commercial fishermom & fishdealer working out of Sakonnet Point, Rhode Island. Her family is the last trap fishing operation in southern New England and was featured in the mini-doc The Last Trap Family: A Rhode Island Family Keeps Sustainable Fishing Alive.

Corey has been documenting her life as a commercial fisherperson and experience as a woman working in a historically male-dominated profession for years. Her photographs are featured on her Instagram account @fishandforrest.

Fish & Forrest features over 30 photographs culled from @fishandforrest, now on view inside the Museum’s historic Meeting House, running through June 18, 2023.

Fish & Forrest is made possible in part by the generous support of Filson and Xtratuf.

Video Credit: The Last Trap Family (2019), directed and produced by Hudson Lines, (c) 2019 Pilcrow Studio

Oceanus: Alexis Rockman

Alexis rockman: Oceanus

alexis rockman: oceanus

May 27, 2023, through April 28, 2024

Collins Gallery, Thompson Exhibition Buildign

Alexis Rockman: Oceanus is a major exhibition featuring ten large-scale watercolors and an 8-by-24-foot panoramic painting, all commissioned by the Museum to become part of the permanent collection. The project represents a shift in perspective at the Museum to raise awareness and inspire conversations around the critical global issues that face our oceans due to the impacts of maritime activities as part of our collective cultural, social, and economic heritage.

The central work, Oceanus, takes the viewer on a journey of global discovery beneath the world’s changing seas, deftly weaving natural history, archeology, adventure, political analysis, and science into a story about the human condition. Oceanus features twenty-two vessels, sixteen of which were inspired by models of watercraft in the Museum’s collections. The boats and ships presented help to show the history of human activity in relation to the ocean, including their direct ties to the exploitation of resources in the world’s waters. The ten watercolors, with their large swaths of intense fluid colors, explore some of the most pressing issues of our time, from the biodiversity crisis, pollution, and marine invasive species to extinction and climate change.

Oceanus will also serve as the anchor in a Museum-wide initiative to educate visitors on marine invasive species. Programming and educational opportunities throughout the run of the show will harness the many resources of the Museum and partner organizations and the expertise of the Museum staff to address the science and impact of this most pressing issue.

As we look to our global maritime heritage, which Mystic Seaport Museum is committed to preserving, this project and these remarkable works will spark critical discussions on a crisis that faces us all—inspiring productive conversation and a rethinking of what has been and shall be our maritime legacy.

The exhibition is accompanied by Alexis Rockman: Oceanus, a 160-page publication by Rizzoli and Mystic Seaport Museum, featuring interviews and essays by Robert D. Ballard, Christina Connett Brophy, James T. Carlton, Sylvia A. Earle, Michael R. Harrison, Alexis Rockman, Helen M. Rozwadowski, and Nari Ward. 

Mystic Seaport Museum has engaged with Museums.Co to offer fine art prints of the artworks in the exhibition. The Museums.Co archival print collection is an exclusive offering of artwork presented in a museum quality format. Through extensive color matching and artist proofing, these reproductions are incredible representations of the original works. Mystic Seaport Museum and the artist, Alexis Rockman, receive a portion of the sale for each print purchased. By clicking the button below, you will be re-directed to the Museums.Co website where the prints may be purchased.

ALEXIS ROCKMAN: OCEANUS is made possible, in part, by the generous support of Mystic Seaport Museum Members. For underwriting and sponsorship opportunities please contact Chris Freeman at chris.freeman@mysticseaport.org.

Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano

Giovanni Boldini, Portrait of James McNeill Whistler, 1897, oil on canvas, 75 1/4 x 45 1/2 x 5 in., Brooklyn Museum, Gift of A. Augustus Healy, 09.849

Sargent, Whistler, & Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano

Now On Exhibit Through February 27, 2023

Collins Gallery, Thompson Exhibition Building

SAAM, Singer Sargent
John Singer Sargent A Venetian Woman, 1882, oil on canvas, 93 3/4 x 52 3/8 in., Cincinnati Art Museum, The Edwin and Virginia Irwin Memorial, 1972.37

Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano, brings to life the Venetian glass revival of the late nineteenth century and the artistic experimentation the city inspired for visiting artists. It is the first comprehensive examination of American tourism, artmaking, and art collecting in Venice, revealing the glass furnaces and their new creative boom as a vibrant facet of the city’s allure.

Though the Venetian island of Murano has been a leading center of glass-making since the middle ages, today’s thriving industry stems from a burst in production between 1860 and 1915. In this era, Murano glassmakers began specializing in delicate and complex hand-blown vessels, dazzling the world with brilliant colors and virtuoso sculptural flourishes. This glass revival coincided with a surge in Venice’s popularity as a destination for tourists, leading to frequent depictions of Italian glassmakers and glass objects by artists from abroad. American painters and their patrons visited the glass furnaces, and many collected ornate goblets and vases decorated with flowers, dragons, and sea creatures. Venetian glass vessels, and also glass mosaics, quickly became more than souvenirs—these were esteemed as museum-quality works of fine art.

Moreover, the inventions of Murano’s master glassmakers established Venice as a center for artistic experimentation. Sojourns in Venice were turning points for John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler, and scores of artists who followed in their footsteps, often referencing the glass industry in their works. Featuring more than 140 objects, this exhibition presents a choice selection of glass vessels in conversation with paintings, watercolors, and prints by the many talented American artists who found inspiration in Venice. This juxtaposition reveals the impact of Italian glass on American art, literature, design theory, and science education, as well as ideas at the time about gender, labor, and class relations. In addition to works by Sargent and Whistler, the exhibition features paintings and prints by Frank Duveneck, Thomas Moran, William Merritt Chase, Maurice Prendergast, Maxfield Parrish, Louise Cox, and Ellen Day Hale. These are featured alongside rarely seen Venetian glass mosaic portraits and glass cups, vases, and urns by the leading glassmakers of Murano, including members of the legendary Seguso, Barovier, and Moretti families. Remarkable works from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection join loans from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and dozens of other distinguished public and private collections.

Robert Frederick Blum, Canal in Venice, San Trovaso Quarter, ca. 1885, oil on canvas, 34 x 23 1/8 in., Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of William T. Evans, 1909.7.7
Attributed to Ercole Barovier or Nicol Barovier, Mosaic Glass Goblet, ca. 1914-28, blown and applied hot worked glass, with mosaic glass inclusions, 6 5/8 x 3 1/4 in. diam., Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of John Gellatly, 1929.8.469.

For Sargent, Whistler, and many of their patrons, Venetian glassware was irresistibly beautiful, and collecting these exquisite vessels expressed respect for both history and innovation. By recreating their transatlantic journey—from the furnaces of Murano to American parlors and museums—this exhibition and catalogue will bring to life the creative energy that beckoned nineteenth-century tourists and artists to Venice. This spirit spawned the renowned Venice Biennale contemporary art festival, and it lives on in Venetian glassmakers’ continued commitment to excellence.

The exhibition is organized by Crawford Alexander Mann III, former curator of prints and drawings at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, current Chief Curator at Telfair Museums in Savannah, Georgia.

Related Events

Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Generous support has been provided by The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Embassy of Italy in Washington DC, Chris G. Harris, the Raymond J. and Margaret Horowitz Endowment, Janet and William Ellery James, William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment Fund, Maureen and Gene Kim, The Lunder Foundation—Peter and Paula Lunder Family, Lucy S. Rhame, Holly and Nick Ruffin, the Smithsonian Scholarly Studies Awards, Rick and Lucille Spagnuolo, and Myra and Harold Weiss.

The accompanying catalogue is supported in part by Jane Joel Knox.

This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

In-kind support has been provided by Christie’s.

Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

GLOBAL FOUNDATION FOR OCEAN EXPLORATION

global foundation for ocean exploration:
inspiration through exploration

Now on Exhibit

Open April 1–December 31

The Clift Block in the Seaport Village

About the Exhibit

Ask someone working in the maritime fields today what inspired them to choose this career path and you will get a wide variety of answers. For some it was watching Jacques Cousteau or reading Jules Verne, or perhaps it’s a family tradition or just the lure of the sea. In any case, they were inspired.

The Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration (GFOE) has created a gallery of stunning underwater video imagery that will inspire visitors to delve deeper into the present-day maritime experience. Information on their explorations is presented to inspire the next generation of explorers and promote STEM careers. The visitor is taken along on expeditions via live, satellite technology to become part of the team and see the discoveries as they are being made.

About the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration

GFOE explores the earth’s greatest depths, produces the tools needed to get there, fosters relationships with global partners, and takes the general public along for the ride. The GFOE team designs, builds, and operates some of the most advanced underwater robotic technology in the field. Through their work in the deep sea, they help society to understand, interpret, and protect the critical ocean environment. 

GFOE trains today’s ocean exploration workforce, not only for the national ocean exploration program, but for the community at large. They identify and develop career paths for young engineers that allow them to experience an end-to-end process of undersea technology design through application. They are also committed to supporting filmmakers who can tell the stories of the ocean, helping to increase public awareness and appreciation of the underwater environment.

A Spectacle in Motion: The Grand Panorama

The Grand Panorama

A Spectacle in Motion: The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World

Open May 29, 2021 to March 27, 2022

In 1848, New Bedford artists Benjamin Russell and Caleb Purrington announced to the world they had completed their Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World. Russell was an emerging artist and bankrupt whaling investor who had just spent 42 months (1841-1844) on a whaling voyage to the Indian Ocean and North Pacific aboard the ship Kutusoff. When he returned, Purrington joined him in creating this massive painting as a commercial enterprise for public entertainment. Performed as a moving panorama, this 1,275-foot long and 8-foot high painting was separated onto four alternating spools, which were mounted in a theater or public hall for a paid performance. It toured the East, transported by train, ship, and wagon to Boston, New York and as far West as St. Louis.

In an era before the age of cinema, the Panorama is a rare extant example of commercial enterprise, designed to exploit the panorama craze of the 19th century with tales of the high seas. This era’s popular entertainment was dominated by illusion and spectacle, the exotic and the unknown. This was the age of the traveling circus, public theater, pantomimes, the height of popularity of the curiosities sideshow, and the birth of grand World’s Fairs.

The Panorama, which is owned and preserved by the New Bedford Whaling Museum, depicts in fascinating detail the voyage of a typical mid-19th century New Bedford whaleship on its journey ‘round the world’ in pursuit of whales. Along the way, it depicts scenes (some from Russell’s experience, some historic, and some imagined) in such far-flung places as the Azores, Cape Verde, Brazil, Tahiti, and Hawaii. People, places, vessels, wildlife, and events spring to life as they were seen from a 19th-century perspective.

Panorama Passport

 

Get your Panorama Passport!

During the conservation of the artifact in 2017, the entire painting was digitized for reproduction and then exhibited in New Bedford. It now appears at Mystic Seaport Museum, one 30-foot scene at a time, in companion with a 34-minute narrated digital film that depicts the entire painting much as it would have been seen in 1848.

Making a cameo appearance is the last wooden whaleship in the world — the Museum’s Charles W. Morgan. The Morgan is one of more than 100 vessels to appear in this painting, and most likely the only one still afloat. Its first voyage coincided with the time that Russell was on the Kutusoff, and he probably saw it in the Azores, where it appears in the Panorama.

Visitors are encouraged to pick up their free Grand Panorama Passport. The Museum will be issuing stamps for each port of call and each scene — there are 15 over the course of the exhibition. Awards will be given to those with multiple stamps and a special prize for those who collect all 15.

Don’t miss this opportunity to join a whaling voyage “’round the world” through the eyes of a Yankee whaler!

Scene Change Schedule

New Bedford (May 29)
New Bedford East (June 17)
Azores (July 8)
Fayal, Azores (July 29)
Cidade Velha, Cape Verde (August 19)
Fogo, Cape Verde (September 9)
Rio de Janeiro (September 30)
Rio de Janeiro (October 21)
Cape Horn (November 11)
Juan Fernandez Island (December 2)
Society Islands and the Essex (December 16)
Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii (January 6, 2022)
Lahaina, Maui (January 27, 2022)
Northwest Pacific Whaling (February 17, 2022)
Fiji (March 10, 2022)

A SPECTACLE IN MOTION: THE GRAND PANORAMA OF A WHALING VOYAGE ‘ROUND THE WORLD IS A COLLABORATION BETWEEN MYSTIC SEAPORT MUSEUM AND THE NEW BEDFORD WHALING MUSEUM, WHICH OWNS AND PRESERVES THE PANORAMA.

A Way With Wood

A way with wood

A Way With Wood: Celebrating Craft

Closed March 21, 2021

The Collins Gallery in the Thompson Exhibition Building is the host of the exhibition A Way with Wood: Celebrating Craft. The show introduces visitors to the many ways people transform one of nature’s most malleable materials to objects of utility, art, and beauty.

At the core of the exhibition is a boat-restoration and boat-building demonstration staffed by the Museum’s shipwrights. At times, their work in the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard, at the other end of campus, can be hidden from public view or can only be observed at a distance. For this exhibition, the shipwrights take center stage and are carrying out different projects over the course of the show. The first is a restoration of Afterglow, the tender to the Museum’s schooner Brilliant. Little to no power tools will be used; the focus will be on work using hand tools.

Complementing the shipwrights’ work is a section where outside artisans will be invited in for periods of time to set up shop to practice and share their craft with the public. This changing stable of craftsmen might feature a variety of different disciplines: wood carving, furniture making, sculpture, and model making are some of the possibilities.

Throughout the gallery, there will be displays of objects from the collections, such as rare tools, unique carvings, small boats, photographs, and other artifacts that illustrate the wide range of ways wood has been shaped by the artisan’s hand.

The displays in A Way with Wood will change as new projects, artisans, and objects rotate in and out. The exhibition is intended to evolve over time and provide different views into the world of craftsmanship and wood.

“Warm, renewable, flexible, strong – the remarkable qualities of wood have appealed to countless generations, making it the traditional go-to material for crafting boats, buildings, docks, and furniture,” says Director of Exhibits Elysa Engelman. “We’re excited to be using our largest and newest gallery to show-off our staff skills and collection connections, by celebrating woodcraft and the craft of woodworking in a maritime setting.”

Voyaging in the Wake of the Whalers

Voyaging in the wake of the whalers

“Voyaging in the Wake of the Whalers” is an exploration of America’s historic and contemporary relationship with whales and whaling. The exhibition opened after the 38th Voyage of the 1841 whaleship and National Historic Landmark Charles W. Morgan, the flagship and signature vessel of Mystic Seaport Museum, which sits at its berth within sight of the gallery entrance. 

Using collections artifacts and artwork alongside compelling audio-visual elements, immersive displays, and thought-provoking interpretation, “Voyaging in the Wake of the Whalers” pushes past the mechanics of whaling to show the richer and deeper stories of the peoples, places, ships, and whales that impacted and were impacted by whaling since the Morgan’s construction in 1841.

In the words of guest curator Anne Witty, “The stories in this exhibit braid together people, whales, history, and culture. Here are tales of work and wonder, wealth and poverty, nature and society. Objects of work, struggle, and leisure. Images of violence and beauty, of forgotten people and lifeways that are strange to us today.”

On display are more than 100 whaling-related artifacts, images, and documents, including logbooks, photographs, scrimshaw, ship models, and souvenirs, as well as moving images, oral histories, and sound recordings. Some of the artifacts and images have only recently been added to the collection and are on public display for the first time.

voyaging in the wake of the whalers exhibit at mystic seaport museum

Interactive Elements

The Museum partnered with Northern Light Productions to create original multimedia elements to help bridge the gap between the whalers’ world and our own. A short film presents a content-rich, visually stunning introduction to the exhibit topic and themes, using high-definition footage shot during the 38th Voyage along with archival whaling footage and brief shots of people, artifacts, and stories that are more fully explored in the exhibit.

 

child at voyaging in the wake of the whalers exhibit at mystic seaport museumTouch-activated “Dive Deeper” information stations, featuring videos, timelines, digital maps, and games, allow visitors to further explore the study of whales and the whaling industry. Visitors can also search a database for crew members that sailed aboard the whaleship Charles W. Morgan and learn more about the vessel’s recent restoration.

To convey the global stories of whales, whaling, and whale research, a large three-dimensional projection globe showing all the world’s oceans tells the universal, geographically-rich stories of the Morgan and presents compelling contemporary research. Video programs enable visitors to sail back to 1841 and follow the journey the Morgan took on her first whaling voyage, explore diversity aboard whaleships, and see how tracking whales has evolved over the past 200 years.

“Most people are familiar with whaling through the lens of popular culture or reading Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick,” said Mystic Seaport Museum President Steve White. “’Voyaging in the Wake of the Whalers’ pushes past the common perception and the mechanics of whaling to show the richer and deeper stories of the peoples, places, ships, and whales that impacted and were impacted by the industry.”

The 38th Voyagers

During the Charles W. Morgan‘s historic 38th Voyage in 2014, 85 individuals from a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds sailed aboard the ship and participated in an unprecedented public-history project. This select group, which included artists, historians, scientists, journalists, teachers, musicians, scholars, and whaling descendants, used their own perspectives and talents to document and filter their experience. Some of these creative products are on display in “Voyaging in the Wake of the Whalers.”

More Information

The Charles W. Morgan

The 38th Voyage

Exhibit Support

national endowment for the humanities logo
institute of museum and library services logo
ct humanities logo
capital group logo
national marine sanctuary foundation logo
community foundation of eastern connecticut logo

Lance R. Wachenheim

Edgard & Geraldine Feder Foundation

Anonymous

Story Boats: The Tales They Tell

Story Boats: The Tales they tell

For a deeper dive into the exhibit, check out our upcoming related
events including our exciting lecture series Boat Stories.

One of the Museum’s greatest assets is its small watercraft collection, which is arguably the largest of its type and the best in the country. Mystic Seaport Museum has more than 450 small watercraft as well as a fleet of larger historic vessels tethered to our docks along the Mystic River, four of which are designated National Historic Landmarks. As a whole, these vessels represent an extraordinary array of design, purpose, and materials beginning in the early 19th century to the present, from dugout canoes to duck boats to Boston Whalers and everything in between and beyond. What ties these boats together thematically, and is the inspiration for the exhibition Story Boats: The Tales They Tell, is the remarkable richness of human interest stories behind them, which include themes of hope, exploration, survival, joy, adventure, sport, immigration, and many others.

Our Clark Senior Curator for Watercraft, Quentin Snediker, consulted with a diverse pool of experts and regular people to distill a list of boats from the collection that have these outstanding stories to tell. The exhibition installation in the Collins Gallery will fully utilize the grand volume of the space to advantage, where some of the lighter vessels will “fly” suspended from the ceiling, while others will be mounted on the gallery floor. Each vessel will be exhibited with an iconic object that alludes to its story. For example, the team is working to borrow pieces from a collection of Franklin D. Roosevelt artifacts to show alongside his 1914 knockabout sloop Vireo. Shortly before a family trip aboard this elegant small yacht in 1921, it is believed that Roosevelt contracted polio. He was aboard this small vessel on the last day he walked without assistance.

Mystic Seaport Museum recently received a collection of material from Steven Callahan, author of Adrift: Seventy-Six Days Lost at Sea, the true story of his survival of being lost at sea in a rubber raft after his solo sailing trip across the Atlantic met with disaster. His sketches and some of the survival tools he created from his scant supplies will be on display with a similar model of the raft from which he found rescue off Guadeloupe. Callahan’s recent oral histories recorded by Mystic Seaport Museum will also be available in the exhibition.

Another fascinating story involves the Analuisa (pictured above), a 20-foot fishing vessel built by Luciano Cuadras Fernández, which was launched from Mariel, Cuba, in 1994 with 19 people aboard bound to immigrate to Florida. Partway across, they were picked up by a passing cruise ship, whose crew was no doubt worried about the heavily overcrowded vessel. A very fortunate crew of four on a floundering vessel also out of Cuba, happened upon the abandoned Analuisa and brought her safely to Key West. The sturdy Analuisa was a success story for two immigrant groups in one voyage. These are just a few of the hundreds of amazing stories that are tied to our Gallery collection.

The Cuban fishing boat ANALUISA.

To complement the Collins Gallery exhibition, other watercraft will be mounted on the deck surrounding the Thompson Exhibition Building and the surrounding grounds, including Tango, a bright orange foot-pedal powered craft designed by the legendary Bruce Kirby. In 1992, Dwight Collins pedaled from Newfoundland to England in 41 days, the fastest human-powered crossing in known history. In addition to these displays, there will be special visitor maps to floating Story Boats vessels that carry their own powerful tales, including the Gerda III, which is on long-term loan from the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. In 1943, a courageous 22-year-old woman named Henny Sinding organized a resistance team to carry more than 300 Jews from Nazi-occupied Denmark to safety in Sweden aboard the Gerda III.

At any time, visitors can roam the boat-filled docks and even step aboard some of our larger ships that live in or next to the Mystic River. We hope that Story Boats whets the appetite of the public to learn more about our extraordinary collection and helps them find their own connection to the sea.

Sailor Made: Folk Art of the Sea

Sailor made

Open in the C.D. Mallory Building

When sailors went to sea in the 19th century, they faced difficult working conditions, cramped personal space onboard ship, and voyages that at times could stretch for months or even years. Sailor Made: Folk Art of the Sea, a new exhibition in Mystic Seaport Museum’s C.D. Mallory Building, explores the art that emerged out of this working world, reflecting sailors’ connections to shipboard life, their thoughts about culture on shore, and the souvenirs they created to remember and share the experiences of their travels.

The second of four new exhibitions funded by the Henry Luce Foundation, Sailor Made highlights more than 200 objects from the Museum’s collection, many of which have long been hidden from public view. Each artifact has its own story, and through the work of exhibition curator Mirelle Luecke, Ph.D., much new information has been uncovered about the objects in the show.

Scrimshaw“When stuck in the difficult, dangerous, and sometimes monotonous environment of the ship, sailors used art to express themselves. The designs they inscribed on scrimshaw, the types of household items they made, and the ways they used different materials were all intentions, and tell us something about the sailors themselves, their experiences, and the world they lived in,” said Luecke.

These stories show how creating art enabled sailors to differentiate their labor and leisure time in the otherwise all-consuming work environment of the ship.

To do this sailors turned to art, carving scrimshaw, drawing in journals, sewing intricate embroidery, and creating intricate knot-work, to name but a few of the media on display. Highlights include:

  • Personal items that spoke to sailor-makers professional life and skills, such as knives, needle cases, clothing, and elaborate macramé bags
  • Household items such as bowls and boxes fashioned out of exotic materials
  • A child’s hammock decorated with scenes from the circumnavigation voyage of the USS Columbia, made by one shipmate for another
  • Examples of tattoo flash (sample drawings from which sailors could choose their tattoo)
  • Numerous pieces of scrimshaw, including engraved teeth, jagging wheels, bodkins, and a knitting swift
  • A coatrack constructed of narwhal tusks
  • A cribbage board in the shape of the nuclear submarine USS Hartford

As self-taught artists, sailors engaged with the working world of the ship, imagined their ideal lives on shore, and created objects to commemorate their experiences at sea. This exhibition is a view into the world of the 19th-century sailor, with a few modern examples to show how those impulses and activities continue today in some naval and merchant mariners.

The exhibition is made possible by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to support the curation and development of four new collections installations and related programming at Mystic Seaport Museum. These projects will provide new perspectives on the art and ensure the continued preservation and refinement of the collections while also promoting public access.

Access to Sailor Made is included in the Museum’s general admission.

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