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A new major exhibition at Mystic Seaport Museum, “Entwined: Freedom, Sovereignty, and the Sea”

First Edition Eliot Bible, New and Old Testament, 1663. Published by Samuel Green, Cambridge, MA. A rare copy of the 1663 bible. Courtesy of the Collection of Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center. Photo courtesy of Mystic Seaport Museum, Joe Michael.

Mystic Seaport Museum is pleased to present Entwined: Freedom, Sovereignty, and the Sea, an exhibition that surveys the interplay of maritime histories through Indigenous, African, and African-descended worldviews. Opening on April 20, 2024 and on view until Spring 2026, the exhibition will examine the twelve millennia of Black and Indigenous history through objects and loaned belongings from Indigenous and African communities dating back 2,500 years, including a selection of 22 contemporary artworks. Entwined will be the first exhibition by Akeia de Barros Gomes, Senior Curator of Maritime Social Histories at the Museum, and is the culmination of a three-year initiative supported by the Mellon Foundation to re-examine regional museum collections through a contemporary lens. Entwined will be accessible to Black and Indigenous community contributors to the exhibition for a month prior to the official opening. 

Entwined celebrates the survival of the indigenous cultures on two continents over thousands of years and a shared connection of Indigenous Africans and Indigenous Americans to the Atlantic” shared de Barros Gomes. “This exhibition explores stories under a contemporary cultural umbrella from creation through periods of interruption and trauma to the modern traditional expressions of how we continue to thrive.” 

The earliest belonging (object) on view in Entwined dates to over 2,500 years ago, a time when both sub-Saharan Africa and the Dawnland—the name for New England among Indigenous nations in the Northeast—were centers of flourishing civilizations and cultural diversity. During this era, African societies were marked by advanced trade networks and the development of sophisticated art and craftsmanship. Meanwhile, Indigenous communities in the Dawnland maintained extensive trade networks and a deep connection with their environment, producing sophisticated artwork, spiritual belongings, and tools that reflected their ties to nature. Overseas migration—both forced, and increasingly during the era of whaling, free—brought people from the coast of Africa into contact with Indigenous communities in New England. These encounters initiated a complex intersection of social identity and shared struggle related to colonial displacement, but also a recognition of common expertise in navigating and utilizing the resources of the ocean.  

At Mystic Seaport Museum, Entwined expands upon this history to highlight the various oceanic spiritual, social, and technological threads that exist between Black and Indigenous communities on both sides of the Atlantic that continue to resonate and confront us today. Central to the exhibition is a canoe commissioned by Mystic Seaport Museum and built collaboratively by four contemporary artists: two of African descent, Sika Foyer (Togo) and Alvin Ashiatey (Ghana); and two of Native American descent, Hartman Deetz (Mashpee Wampanoag) and Gary Carter Jr. (Mashantucket Pequot). The canoe, which is both a traditional and contemporary piece of art was created in a “dugout” tradition, a process by which the wood is hollowed out by burning and then polished, which has been the way of fashioning canoes for various African and Indigenous communities for thousands of years. This shared method of craftsmanship highlights an incredible commonality between African and Indigenous peoples’ relationship to the sea that long predates European contact.  

Entwined will reveal the foundation of Black and Indigenous maritime cultures through historical artwork and belongings that outline the respective histories and traditions associated with African and Indigenous cultures’ relationship to the ocean. The Indigenous belongings include artworks on loan from Indigenous nations and individuals such as fishing decoys, beads, and a water drum. A second thematic guiding force of the exhibition, and the oldest belonging on view, is an Aboriginal Cooking Pot ca. 500 BCE. underscoring a method of shell tempering that is common to both the Dawnland and African continent. Another object loaned to the Museum by the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center is a first edition Eliot Bible, translated and printed by a Nipmuc man named Wowaus (later known as James Printer). Raised as a Christian, he was introduced to the missionary John Eliot and became one of several Indigenous men who contributed to the translation of the Eliot Bible. While initially translated into the Algonquian dialect-N as a tool for Europeans to Christianize Native Americans, the Eliot Bible was used 350 years later by Northeast Indigenous communities as reference materials to relearn and reclaim endangered Algonquian languages.   

The exhibition also features a replication of a colonial attic typical of where Indigenous indentured servants and enslaved Africans were forced to live. A highlight among the belongings in this space is an 18th-century nkisi bundle originally discovered underneath a floorboard in the attic of the Wanton Lyman Hazard House, the oldest standing colonial house in Newport, Rhode Island. Minkisi (plural) are a collection of various objects such as shells, beads, and glass that were created to bridge the gap between the physical world and ancestors, maintain a connection to Africa, and provide protection and healing. The bundle is the only example surviving in New England. 

Continuing into the present day, Entwined will feature works that highlight contemporary Black and Indigenous reclaiming of freedom, sovereignty, and the sea. Painting and sculpture will be presented by Black and Indigenous artists based in the northeast United States, including Christian Gonçalves, Sherenté Mishitashin Harris, Sierra Henries, Elizabeth James Perry, Gail “White Hair Smiling” Rokotuibau, Robin Spears, Felandes Thames, Alison Wells, and Nafis White.  

The autonomy given through the whaling industry is explored in both Courtney M. Leonard’s BREACH: Logbook 15 / SCRIMSHAW STUDY #2 (2015) and Felandus Thames’s Wail on Whalers, a portrait of Amos Haskin (2024). Leonard referenced the history of Indigenous whaling pre-colonization with a ceramic sculpture of a whale tooth painted with red clay, while Thames presents a portrait homage to Amos Haskins, an Aquinnah Wampanoag master mariner. The Other Side of the Harbor (2013) by Alison Wells collages news clippings and references to the Underground Railroad in the free state whaling city of New Bedford. Applications of maritime culture on indigenous art are highlighted in Sierra Autumn Henries’s She Sings the Old Songs (2024), birch bark carving and wampum work paying tribute to generations of whalesong. Further works of water drums, traditional dance regalia, hair work, and jewelry were recently made to serve as a connection for future descendants to embrace and appreciate their historical narratives. These intertwined threads of history coalesce in the collaborative canoe to create a tapestry of shared experiences. 

Acknowledgments 

Entwined: Freedom, Sovereignty, and the Sea is generously funded by the Just Futures Initiative of the Mellon Foundation as part of the Reimagining New England Histories project. 

Mystic Seaport Museum also gratefully acknowledges our project partners, Brown University and Williams College, and our community advisors whose collective voices, knowledge, creativity, and wisdom are foregrounded in this exhibition.

Exhibit design and fabrication by SmokeSygnals. 

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Mystic Seaport Museum Named “Business of the Year” by Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut

Mystic Seaport Museum proudly announces its recognition as Business of the Year in the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut’s Annual ECTy Awards. The ECTy Awards honor excellence in community engagement, innovation, customer service, and business best practices. Through the nomination process, the Museum demonstrated its commitment to community involvement, support, and collaboration; the preservation of skills in Connecticut; and innovative, green and otherwise progressive business practices delivered through world class exhibitions, educational programming, and global partnerships. 

Mystic Seaport Museum will be honored at the Chamber’s Annual Meeting and Awards Celebration, on Wednesday, March 27, at the Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa. This is the Chamber’s premier membership gathering and will be an evening of celebration and recognition. 

“We are grateful to the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut for this honor in being named Business of the Year in the esteemed ECTy Awards. Congratulations to all the winners, who through our collective work are supporting the growth and development of our region and Connecticut as a whole,” expressed Sophia Matsas, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the Museum. 

To learn more about the event and purchase tickets to support the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, visit here.

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Mystic Seaport Museum presents Spineless: A Glass Menagerie of Blaschka Marine Invertebrates

Mystic Seaport Museum presents
Spineless: A Glass Menagerie of Blaschka Marine Invertebrates

Opening October 21, 2023

Mystic, Conn. (October 3, 2023) – Mystic Seaport Museum is pleased to present Spineless: A Glass Menagerie of Blaschka Marine Invertebrates, a major exhibition featuring selections from the 19th-century Blaschka Glass Invertebrates collection at The Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard and from other institutions. The exhibition features over 40 of the exquisite models, and is the first to emphasize models which are now identified as introduced species, including many now found in New England waterways. Co-curated by Krystal Rose, Curator of Collections at Mystic Seaport Museum and Dr. James T. Carlton, Director Emeritus of the Williams-Mystic Coastal and Ocean Studies Program, Spineless will be on view October 21, 2023 through September 2024, highlighting both the history of 19th-century science and the study and tracking of marine introduced species in the wake of globalization.

Spineless provides a rare opportunity to see the world-famous Blaschka models in a new context, interpreted through the lens of maritime and marine science histories and connecting the past with the present,” said Christina Connett Brophy, Senior Director of Museum Galleries and Senior Vice President of Curatorial Affairs at Mystic Seaport Museum. “Using the Museum’s own collections as well as some exquisite loans from the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University and others, the Blaschka models come alive with themes that relate to other exhibitions and programs throughout the campus and our unique site along the Mystic River.”

The exhibition highlights the intriguing story of father and son glassmakers Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka of Dresden, Germany. In the 1850s, the elder Blaschka became fascinated by invertebrates he observed while at sea.  After a successful commission to create sea anemone models for a nearby natural history museum, Leopold and later on his son, Rudolf, went on to produce glass models of hundreds of marine invertebrates.  The glasswork of the Blaschkas beautifully captured the forms, anatomical details, and colors of these magnificent sea creatures.  Through a mail-order business, they successfully sold and distributed these often extraordinarily fragile pieces to museums and universities around the world for teaching and display purposes.

When creating the models, the Blaschkas relied on their relationships with scientists, along with observations of live specimens held in aquariums, wet specimens, books, and scientific journals. In Spineless, selected models are accompanied by sailors’ journals and rare books containing sketches, watercolors, written descriptions, and photographs, giving a glimpse into early documentation and scientific work at sea. Wet specimens, preserved in jars, highlight the challenges that the Blaschkas and scientists faced in preserving and documenting invertebrates for study. These historic objects are complemented by depictions of marine invertebrates by contemporary artists, demonstrating our enduring interest in these remarkable, often mysterious creatures.

A special presentation within Spineless turns an eye towards some of the invertebrates’ modern-day environmental impact as introduced species. Since the models’ creation in the late 19th century, some of the species they represent have been introduced around the world, traveling on the hulls of ships and in ballast water. Those models are singled out and contextualized through the work of co-curator Dr. James T. Carlton, one of the world’s leading experts in marine bioinvasions. In Carlton’s own words, “the Blaschka glass models elegantly illustrate the absence of any boundaries between art and the science of the sea, including our modern-day environmental concerns for ocean conservation.”

Spineless: A Glass Menagerie of Blaschka Marine Invertebrates marks the continuation of the Museum’s educational initiatives on introduced species in the context of maritime history, which began with the currently-on-view Alexis Rockman: Oceanus. A new series of waterfront panels on introduced species, Spineless, and Oceanus will highlight many of the same invertebrates created by the Blaschkas in a contemporary context.

Spineless: A Glass Menagerie of Blaschka Marine Invertebrates will be accompanied by various programs and lectures throughout the duration of the show.

Spineless was made possible by generous support from:

The Edward and Mary Lord Foundation

The SpringRiver Foundation

Design Principles, Inc.

Thank you to the individuals and institutions who loaned materials for this exhibition.

Elizabeth Brill

Marian and Russell Burke

Corning Museum of Glass

Ernst Mayr Library at Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology

Suzette Mouchaty

Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University

Museum of Science, Boston

New Bedford Whaling Museum

Emily Williams

Yale Peabody Museum Department of Invertebrate Zoology

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Media Contact

Sophia Matsas
Director of Marketing & Communications
Mystic Seaport Museum
860.572.5317 (o)
sophia.matsas@mysticseaport.org

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 FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Instagram.

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Experience an Unforgettable Summer at Mystic Seaport Museum!

Experience an Unforgettable Summer at Mystic Seaport Museum!

Mystic, Conn. (June 7, 2023) – Mystic Seaport Museum is thrilled to announce an incredible lineup of captivating summer events. Nestled in the charming coastal village of Mystic, Connecticut, the Museum invites visitors of all ages to embark on an unforgettable journey through maritime history, interactive exhibits, and engaging activities.

Discover the wonders that await you this summer at Mystic Seaport Museum:

  1. Juneteenth Recognition Events, Sunday, June 11, and Monday, June 19 | On June 11, the Museum is collaborating with Discovering Amistad for the fourth year in this recognition event featuring a keynote lecture, live music, artisan vendors, and tours of the flagship of Connecticut, the Amistad. On June 19, join us at the Museum’s new Performance Stage for a live theatrical performance of “Harriet Tubman: Woman with a Railroad,” written and performed by Adwoa Bandele-Asante.
  2. WoodenBoat Show, Friday–Sunday, June 23–25 | The 31st annual WoodenBoat Show, hosted in partnership with WoodenBoat Publications, returns to the Museum offering something for all wooden boat enthusiasts and maritime history buffs.
  3. Independence Day Celebration, Saturday, July 1 | Kick off your Fourth of July weekend with drills and demonstrations by Continental and British soldiers!
  4. Antique & Classic Boat Rendezvous, Saturday, July 22 | Join us for a dazzling display of high-quality antique and classic vessels including cruisers, sailboats, and runabouts. Approximately 25 classic vessels will create a colorful gathering along the Museum’s waterfront all day.
  5. 17th Annual International Sea Glass Association Festival, Saturday–Sunday, July 29–30 | The 17th Annual International Sea Glass Association Festival will be held at the Museum. Shop to support ISGA artists who will be selling their creations and learn about sea and beach glass from the experts.
  6. The 32nd Annual Antique Marine Engine Expo, Saturday–Sunday, August 19–20 |This is one of the oldest major marine engines shows in the nation with over 300 exhibits.
  7. Get out on the water!, daily through Labor Day | We offer visitors numerous opportunities to get out on the water this summer! From river cruises and sail, row, and pedal boat rentals to private charters, there’s a unique experience for everyone!

In addition to these highlighted events, visitors can enjoy a multitude of ongoing activities, including shipyard tours, lectures and book talks, live music, world-class exhibitions, including Alexis Rockman: Oceanus, the annual Moby-Dick Marathon, dedicated children’s spaces, on-site dining and more!

“We are thrilled to present a summer season filled with exciting events and experiences,” said Peter Armstrong, President at Mystic Seaport Museum. “These offerings provide a unique opportunity for visitors to engage with maritime history and culture in an interactive and enjoyable manner. We look forward to welcoming visitors from near and far to experience summer at Mystic Seaport Museum.”

For more information on the summer events at Mystic Seaport Museum and to plan your trip, visit the Museum website here.

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Media Contact

Sophia Matsas
Director of Marketing & Communications
Mystic Seaport Museum
860.572.5317 (o)
sophia.matsas@mysticseaport.org

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 FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Instagram.

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Alexis Rockman: Oceanus | Exhibition Catalogue

AVAILABLE APRIL 18: ALEXIS ROCKMAN OCEANUS
Published by Mystic Seaport Museum and Rizzoli
Edited by Christina Connett Brophy

Mystic, Conn. (April 18, 2023) – Mystic Seaport Museum is pleased to announce its latest publication Alexis Rockman: Oceanus, available April 18. Published as part of the artist’s upcoming climate-focused exhibition at the Museum, the publication documents Rockman’s newly commissioned 8-by-24-foot panoramic painting and ten related watercolors. These important works tell the story of ocean life and ecology as affected by humankind and look above and beneath the ocean’s surface to examine critical environmental and social issues of our past, present, and future.

Edited by the Museum’s Senior Vice President of Curatorial Affairs and Senior Director of Museum Galleries Christina Connett Brophy, the 160-page publication will accompany the presentation of Rockman’s paintings with contextual imagery, photographs of Alexis Rockman at work, and essays by leading writers and scholars, bringing together the arts, humanities, and ocean sciences.

The catalogue was co-published by Mystic Seaport Museum and Rizzoli International Publications Inc. with contributions by Robert D. Ballard, Christina Connett Brophy, James T. Carlton, Sylvia A. Earle, Michael R. Harrison, Alexis Rockman, Helen M. Rozwadowski, and Nari Ward. The work was designed by Tony Morgan/Step Graphics, Inc. and the Managing Editor was Todd Bradway.

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Media Contact

Sophia Matsas
Director of Marketing & Communications
Mystic Seaport Museum
860.572.5317 (o)
sophia.matsas@mysticseaport.org

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 FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Instagram.

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Mystic Seaport Museum Presents Alexis Rockman: Oceanus

Museum’s First Solo Exhibition of a Contemporary Artist to Feature 10 Newly-Commissioned Large-Scale Watercolors and Panoramic Painting

Opening May 27, 2023

Mystic, Conn. (April 3, 2023) – Mystic Seaport Museum is pleased to present Alexis Rockman: Oceanus, an exhibition of newly-commissioned, marine ecologically-focused watercolors and a central panoramic painting by Alexis Rockman. The exhibition will be on view from Memorial Day Weekend, May 27, 2023, and will feature Oceanus, an 8-by-24-foot panoramic oil painting, in addition to ten large-scale watercolors.

Since his early color field paintings on canvas in 1985, Rockman has used natural history as a basis for exploring climate change and the biodiversity crisis. Drawing from natural histories of the past, Rockman confronts possibilities of a dystopian future. In Alexis Rockman: Oceanus, the artist looks above and beneath the ocean’s surface to examine critical environmental, therefore social, issues of our past, present, and what the future may hold. In saturated colors, Rockman depicts the development of marine technologies over time towards increased exploitation of the world’s ocean, both the forced and intentional ocean passages of people, the introduction of invasive marine life through human activity, coastal fragility in a changing climate, and the ongoing cultural fascination with the unknown and underexplored deep ocean.

Alexis Rockman: Oceanus depicts a cautionary vision of a dreamlike yet cynical climate worldview. A world beneath the ocean’s surface is reflected in cascading shades of blue and green, populated by sea creatures that fill the canvas in dynamic and exquisite detail. Upon closer examination, these beautiful otherworldly scenes are revealed as polluted and over exploited, with ships looming above through dark skies marred by oil rigs and a tsunami wave crashing towards the viewer.

Drawing from Rockman’s tradition of looking to history to examine the future, Oceanus features depictions of twenty-two vessels, sixteen of which were inspired by models of watercraft in the Museum’s collection. 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. In Rockman’s own words,

“The works in this show will tell the story of humankind’s indelible relationship with the ocean and the connections between the sea and our own survival. The project will probe this complex story through the Museum’s collections and the history of the oceans and their people.”

Cast in an ethereal luminescent light, Rockman’s twelve watercolors depict a future sea in a half state of survival. A jellyfish drifts by the outline of a sunken truck and house in Tropical Island, while marine species invasions are enabled by floating plastics across oceans. The works suggest a bittersweet adaptability: survival of the natural world among toxic conditions that could have been prevented with proper action and human recognition.

At Mystic Seaport Museum, the nation’s leading maritime Museum, the exhibition is representative of a dedication to spreading awareness of the issues our oceans face. Oceanus will also serve as the anchor in a Museum-wide initiative to educate visitors on marine invasive species.

[Alexis Rockman: Oceanus will coincide with a solo exhibition at Sperone Westwater, and will be followed by Mark Dion and Alexis Rockman: Journey to Nature’s Underworld at The Bruce Museum.]

Alexis Rockman: Oceanus will be accompanied by extensive programming and companion exhibits on marine species invasions, blue technology, and sustainable fishing, as well as new riverside exhibitions. A 160-page publication by Rizzoli and Mystic Seaport Museum will also be presented alongside the exhibition, bringing together essays on the arts, humanities, and ocean science.

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Media Contact

Sophia Matsas
Director of Marketing & Communications
Mystic Seaport Museum
860.572.5317 (o)
sophia.matsas@mysticseaport.org

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 FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Instagram.

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Exhibition of Photography by Fisherwoman Corey Wheeler Forrest Opens February 4

Mystic, Conn. (January 17, 2023) – Mystic Seaport Museum is pleased to present Fish & Forrest: Through the Lens of a Commercial Fishermom, an exhibition of photography by third generation fisherwoman Corey Wheeler Forrest. Fish & Forrest will be on view inside the Museum’s historic Meeting House from February 4, 2023 and will be on display through the summer.  The exhibition will be accompanied by associated talks, panel discussions, film screenings, and launch party events around southeastern New England.

Hailing from a long line of commercial fisherpersons in Sakonnet Point, Rhode Island, Corey’s family today runs the last trap fishing operation in southern New England. The family business spans generations, including everyone from Corey’s 75-year-old father to her own young daughter. The family is the subject of the mini documentary The Last Trap Family, which is available online and will be screened accompanying the exhibition. The opening of the documentary neatly emphasizes the family’s significance:

 “In the 1800s there were 200 traps that lined the shore.

We are the last family that fishes this way.”

Fish & Forrest presents over 30 photographs selected from Corey’s Instagram account @fishandforrest. Here, she documents her life as a commercial fisherwoman preserving sustainable traditions in a male-dominated profession.

Corey’s lead boat runs on only ten gallons of gas a day, and because fish remain alive in the traps, any fish that will not be used are released. Rising expenses make this sustainable method of fishing increasingly difficult, yet Corey and her family remain ever hopeful for another year. Her photographs are evocative of this dedication and of what she refers to as quintessential fishing town. Corey’s images capture her 4 a.m. wake-up calls, her brother in his fishing gear, and the bow of her boat on foggy summer mornings to provide a window into the slice of life that she hopes to preserve. Fish & Forrest will be the artist’s first photography exhibition and will feature 30 works spanning the last 7 years.

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

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Media Contact

Sophia Matsas
Director of Marketing & Communications
Mystic Seaport Museum
860.572.5317 (o)
sophia.matsas@mysticseaport.org

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 FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Instagram.

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“SARGENT, WHISTLER, AND VENETIAN GLASS: AMERICAN ARTISTS AND THE MAGIC OF MURANO”

Opens at Mystic Seaport Museum October 15, 2022

With more than 115 works from over 40 institutions and private collections, the exhibition is one of the Museum’s most ambitious to date

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

Mystic, Conn. (July 7, 2022) – The exhibition Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano is the first comprehensive examination of American artmaking, tourism, and art collecting in Venice, bringing to life the Venetian glass revival of the late 19th century as well as the artistic experimentation the city inspired for visiting artists. On view at the Mystic Seaport Museum from October 15, 2022 through February 27, 2023, the exhibition is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where it was originally on view. Christina Connett Brophy, Senior Vice President of Curatorial Affairs and Senior Director of Museum Galleries at Mystic Seaport Museum, has expanded and tailored the exhibition for its Mystic iteration. This presentation considers the work through the lens of another vibrant port city which saw a heyday during the period covered by the collection: Mystic, Connecticut and greater New England. In Mystic, the exhibition adds new objects, displays, and pedagogical tools and experiences drawing from the Museum’s own collection and expertise.

Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano brings together more than 115 artworks, including rare etchings by James McNeill Whistler and major oil paintings by John Singer Sargent. More than a quarter of the objects on display are from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection, joining loans from more than 40 institutions—such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago—as well as private collections. Paintings and prints intermingle among rarely seen Venetian glass mosaic portraits and glass cups, vases, and urns by the leading glassmakers of Murano, including members of the Seguso and Barovier families. Several artworks were conserved by the Smithsonian specifically for inclusion in the exhibition, including an ornate Byzantine revival gold and glass mosaic necklace.

“Venice has long captivated American artists and collectors who have been inspired by the creative talents of Venetians in glassmaking and other disciplines,” said Peter Armstrong, president of  Mystic Seaport Museum. “Presenting the exhibition, Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano, gives us the opportunity to draw on Mystic Seaport Museum’s unique insight into this same period of time, and expand the understanding of the show’s original thesis.”

Between 1860 and 1915, the renowned glassmaking industry on the Venetian island of Murano experienced intense growth. Cross-cultural connections were paved between Italy and the United States via ocean pathways and easier travel. This Venetian glass revival coincided with a surge in Venice’s popularity as a destination for Americans, many of whom visited the glass furnaces and eagerly collected ornate hand-blown goblets decorated with floral and animal motifs. Collector interest led to frequent depictions of Italian glassmakers and glass objects by prominent American artists of that era, including not only Sargent and Whistler, but the likes of Robert Frederick Blum, Frank Duveneck, Ellen Day Hale, Bertha Evelyn Jaques, Thomas Moran, and Walter Launt Palmer. During the same time, Venice’s other decorative arts industries–most notably mosaics, lace, and jewelry–saw a renaissance, in part through American patronage. The collection presents Venetian works in conversation with paintings, watercolors, and prints by American artists who found inspiration in Venice.

At Mystic Seaport Museum, object, pedagogical, and experiential additions to the exhibition draw on the port city of Mystic’s own heritage in parallel to that of Venice. New to the Mystic exhibition, visitors will see contemporary glass and lace work that shows the continued impact of Venetian-imported craft today and the associated tools for making such work. Additionally, photographs printed from glass plate negatives taken in Venice at the time, and a gondola on loan from La Gondola Providence, Inc. will be on display.

Drawing further on Mystic Seaport Museum’s curatorial and community knowledge, the show will also explore related anthropological questions, such as the relationship between these transatlantic cultural exchanges and local, exploitative trade with American indigenous populations. Mystic, similarly to Venice, exists as a port city battling sea level rises, creating challenges to historic buildings and artifacts.

“Bringing The Magic of Murano to Mystic Seaport Museum not only leverages our unique ability to add the rich viewpoint gained by adding physical objects in our collection and craft expertise to the exhibition,” says Brophy, “but it also gives us an important opportunity to directly add a broader range of voices to our understanding of the exchange that is explored in the Smithsonian’s incredible exhibition.”

BOOK 

The 335-page, fully-illustrated catalog provides the first survey of the American grand tour to Venice combining fine and decorative arts. The book features five new essays from experts in the history of American art and Venetian glass including Sheldon Barr, independent scholar of Venetian revival glass; Melody Barnett Deusner, associate professor of art history at Indiana University Bloomington; Diana Jocelyn Greenwold, Lunder Curator of American Art at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art; Stephanie Mayer Heydt, the Margaret and Terry Stent Curator of American Art at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta; and Alex Mann, former Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Brittany Emens Strupp, curatorial assistant and doctoral candidate in art history at Temple University contributed to the artist biographies. Co-published by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in association with Princeton University Press, is available for purchase ($65).

CREDIT

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, the Embassy of Italy in Washington, D.C., 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 catalog 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.

Upgrades to the exhibition at the Mystic Seaport Museum are supported by DEAI/Mellon and other partners.

Events

Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano will be accompanied by a robust program of events and public programming to be announced this Summer.

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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 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 FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Instagram.

Contact:

Lourdes Miller
Account Coordinator, Visual Arts
Blue Medium
T: +1 212-675-1800
lourdes@bluemedium.com

Sophia Matsas
Director of Marketing & Communications
Mystic Seaport Museum
860.572.5317 (o)
sophia.matsas@mysticseaport.org

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Categories
Press Releases

“Story Boats: The Tales They Tell” Opens at Mystic Seaport Museum May 28

Franklin Delano Roosevelt's yacht VIREO.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s yacht VIREO.

Mystic, Conn. (April 6, 2022) – The exhibition “Story Boats: The Tales They Tell” gathers a diverse selection of boats, large and small, to offer a fresh and exciting view into the American maritime experience. Drawn from the Museum’s extensive watercraft collection (including some that are being shown to the public for the very first time) the boats in the show bring to life remarkable stories of humanity’s connection to the sea.

“Story Boats: The Tales They Tell” will be on view in the Collins Gallery at Mystic Seaport Museum from May 28 through August 14, 2022. It was curated by Quentin Snediker, the Museum’s Clark Senior Curator for Watercraft and Krystal Rose, Curator of Collections.

“While many visitors and field experts are interested in the technical and material aspects of the collection, what resonates with a broader audience are the diverse personal stories that are inherently tied to those boats and how these stories connect with our visitors’ own journeys,” said Christina Brophy, Senior Vice President of Curatorial Affairs and Senior Director of Museum Galleries at Mystic Seaport Museum. “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.”

One of the Museum’s greatest assets is its collection of small watercraft, which is arguably the largest of its type and the best in the country. Mystic Seaport Museum has more than 450 small boats as well as a fleet of larger historic vessels moored on its waterfront along the Mystic River. Four of these vessels are designated National Historic Landmarks. As a whole, they 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 recreational Boston Whalers and everything in between and beyond.

Senior Curator for Watercraft, Quentin Snediker and Curator of Collections, Krystal Rose, along with the Museum’s exhibits team consulted with a diverse pool of experts and lay people to distill a list of boats from the collection that have these outstanding stories to tell. The exhibition installation in the Thompson Building Collins Gallery and Pilalas Lobby 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.

A few highlights from the exhibit include:

Franklin D Roosevelt’s Vireo

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1914 knockabout sloop Vireo (from our collection) will be displayed alongside his wheelchair (on loan from the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites). Roosevelt contracted polio in 1921 shortly before a family trip and was aboard the vessel on the last day he walked without assistance.

Steven Callahan’s 76 Days Adrift

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 life 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.

Escape from Cuba Aboard Analuisa

The Analuisa is a 20-foot fishing vessel built by Luciano Cuadras Fernández, launched from Mariel, Cuba, in 1994 with 19 people aboard bound for Florida. Partway across, they were picked up by a passing cruise ship, abadoning the Analuisa. A very fortunate group of four on a totally different, floundering vessel (also out of Cuba) happened upon the abandoned Analuisa and navigated 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.

To complement the main exhibition, other watercraft will be mounted on the deck surrounding the Thompson Exhibition Building and on the surrounding grounds, including Tango, a bright orange foot-pedal powered craft designed by the legendary naval architect Bruce Kirby. In 1992, Dwight Collins pedaled the boat from Newfoundland to England in 41 days, the fastest human-powered crossing in known history. In addition to these displays, visitors can explore our grounds 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.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a souvenir book, “Story Boats,” to be published by Mystic Seaport Museum.

Media Contact:
Sophia Matsas
Director of Marketing & Communications
Mystic Seaport Museum
860.572.5317 (o)
sophia.matsas@mysticseaport.org

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 FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Instagram.

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