Mystic, Conn. (January 27, 2022) – In honor of Black History Month, Mystic Seaport Museum will introduce several programs celebrating important and often under-recognized figures that have changed the course of history. The programs are part of an ongoing initiative at the Museum to incorporate a more diverse range of voices in its programming and exhibits about American maritime history.
All month, visitors to the Museum can hear a talk aboard the whaleship Charles W. Morgan about Lewis Temple. Temple was an African American blacksmith, abolitionist, and inventor born in Virginia around 1800, who found his way to the whaling port of New Bedford. He is best known for the development of the Temple Toggle Iron, an iron harpoon design that featured a pivoting head that would not slip out of the whale. The invention, similar to harpoons used by Native Americans and Inuit to catch fish and seals, revolutionized the whaling industry.
Visitors are further invited to explore an outdoor exhibit, The Sea Connects Us, a series of panels highlighting the achievements of African American and Indigenous people who made significant contributions to U.S. maritime history.
Collaboration with Discovering Amistad
In addition, Mystic Seaport Museum and Discovering Amistad are embarking on a new collaboration with the shared mission of furthering racial justice. The ongoing initiative will promote learning and exposure to contributions made by African Americans in U.S. maritime history.
The two organizations are partnering to offer a new joint program for schools that tells the story of the ship Amistad and how it serves as an example of how citizens and communities, working together, can bring about meaningful change. Students will be able to board the Amistad at the Museum and learn about the vessel, the story of the 1839 Amistad Uprising, and the landmark Supreme Court case that freed the Mende captives who were facing slavery or execution. The program also includes a segment in the Museum’s planetarium that highlights the role celestial navigation played in the story. Using the legacy of the uprising, the program bridges history and the challenges of that time to present-day issues of inequity. This program is a permanent offering by the two organizations.
The Museum is also supporting a Discovering Amistad program to engage middle school students in Connecticut to research and become involved in Black maritime history. Ten schools will be invited to participate in the program, in which students will create an art project on figures from Black maritime history. The top submission from each school will receive a prize including the opportunity to participate in a Discovering Amistad art exhibit and free admission to Mystic Seaport Museum with a special behind-the-scenes tour. Awards will made by April 1.
African Americans in Astronomy
On Wednesday, February 23, the Museum will present a program as part of its AARP Webinar Wednesday: African Americans in Astronomy. Brian Koehler, the supervisor of the Museum’s Treworgy Planetarium, will discuss the groundbreaking achievements by African Americans in the fields of Astronomy and space exploration. Despite hundreds of years of discrimination and prejudicial treatment, these pioneers achieved remarkable accomplishments that changed and shaped the present understanding of the cosmos. This virtual program is from 7 to 8 p.m. EST and is free for AARP and Mystic Seaport Museum members (non-members may attend for a $15 admission fee). AARP CT is the sponsor of this program. People should visit www.mysticseaport.org/calendar/ to register for this event.
Dan McFaddenDirector of Communications
Mystic Seaport Museum
About Mystic Seaport Museum
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 Museum’s grounds cover 19 acres on the Mystic River in Mystic, CT, 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. For more information, please visit mysticseaport.org and follow the Museum on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.