Sea as Muse

Artifact from Sea as Muse
Now Open!
R.J. Schaefer Building

Where do artists find their inspiration? In ancient Greece, the Muses were supernatural beings who inspired artists, scholars, and writers to create their works. The upcoming exhibit, Sea as Muse, explores the ways that the sea provided a similar inspiration for decorative arts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Opening in September 2021, the exhibit showcases fine silver trophies and woodcarvings from the vast collections of Mystic Seaport Museum. Dolphins and mermaids, seaweed and sea urchins, fast ships and ocean waves—visitors will find many delightful details like these, inspired by sea life and life on the seas. 

Silversmithing tools and in-progress pieces loaned by the Providence Jewelry Museum help demonstrate the making process, and interviews with living artisans shed light on both the process and the preparation necessary. New research provides a rare glimpse of some of the immigrant artists and artisans of the past who used their talent and skill to create a variety of beautiful objects in the exhibit. Offering visitors new ways of seeing and understanding American and British decorative arts, Sea as Muse also demystifies the visual languages of artistic expression.

Sea as Muse is the fourth and final exhibit funded by a generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. Like Open Ocean, Sailor Made, and the 2020 reinstallation of ships’ figureheads, Sea as Muse brings new knowledge, insight, and perspective to treasures in Mystic Seaport Museum’s collections.