Exhibition is the First for Museum’s New Thompson Exhibition Building
Mystic, Conn. (November 30, 2016) — Mystic Seaport will open its newest exhibition, SeaChange, an exploration of the theme of transformation through select maritime artifacts, on December 10. The exhibition will be the inaugural installation in the Collins Gallery of the newly constructed Thompson Exhibition Building, which opened this past September.
SeaChange will present a range of striking, surprising, and unusual objects drawn from the rich collections of Mystic Seaport. Some of these intriguing artifacts will be on display for the first time, others may not have been seen for many years, but all are presented in a new setting with surprising stories. Each is a survivor of the past that speaks to a notable transformation – in material, technology, the sea itself, or the broader American culture over the past 200 years.
“In creating this exhibit, we were drawn to pieces in the collections that are visually compelling and that tell stories about people, places, and events far from our own that nevertheless resonate today. They speak to the human transformation of natural materials, to massive shifts in technology, to changes in the natural world, and to the personal changes – metamorphoses even – caused by contact with the sea,” said Elysa Engelman, director of Exhibits at Mystic Seaport. “We hope the visitor is similarly transformed by the rich narratives these artifacts tell and leaves the exhibit moved and inspired to learn more.”
SeaChange is organized around ten primary objects. Together, they give glimpses into people’s lives in different places and times, from scientific surveyors charting the Atlantic coast on the eve of the American Revolution to western merchants trading for silk and tea in 1850s China, from Artic explorers to laborers harvesting bird guano off Peru for American farmers. They touch on a full range of human concerns, from foodways to family, art to science. In keeping with the bold design, clean lines, and natural materials of the Thompson Building, the exhibit design uses large, free-standing abstract structures evocative of sails or icebergs to frame each central artifact, taking advantage of the soaring heights in the Collins Gallery. The overall effect is visually stunning, an inviting space that entices visitors to contemplate, discover, discuss – and return to the exhibit.
SeaChange extends the sensory approach beyond the visual with more than a dozen custom-created interactives. Among them, visitors will have the opportunity to:
- Peer through a scope at various “dazzle” ship camouflage designs from World War I to see which is most visually disruptive to a submarine commander
- Use an endoscope to see inside the detailed interior of an 18th-century ship model
- Tap to smell the scents related to one of the more curious cargoes of the Pacific trade
- Listen to experts from a range of fields relate the backstories and answer common questions about each primary artifact through video touchscreen programs.
The exhibit will open to the public at 10 a.m. with a special Museum members preview at 9 a.m.
SeaChange was designed by the McMillan Group of Westport, CT, and the audio-visual and interactive programming was produced by Trivium Interactive of Boston, MA.
The exhibition is the centerpiece of the Museum’s initiative to increase its year-round, all-weather offering to visitors. SeaChange will be open into fall 2017.
About Mystic Seaport
Mystic Seaport is the nation’s leading maritime museum. Founded in 1929, the Museum is home to four National Historic Landmark vessels, including the Charles W. Morgan, America’s oldest commercial ship and the last wooden whaleship in the world. The Museum’s collection of more than two million artifacts includes more than 500 historic vessels and one of the largest collections of maritime photography in the country. The newly opened Thompson Exhibition Building provides a state-of-the-art gallery to host compelling, world-class exhibits, beginning with SeaChange, which opens December 10, 2016. The Collections Research Center at Mystic Seaport provides scholars and researchers from around the world access to the Museum’s renowned archives. Mystic Seaport is located one mile south of Exit 90 off I-95 in Mystic, CT. Admission is $26 for adults and $17 for children ages 6-17. Museum members and children 5 and younger are admitted free. For more information, please visit https://mysticseaport.wpengine.com/ and follow Mystic Seaport on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.