Wells Boat Hall

Projected to open in late 2025

Mystic Seaport Museum is widely regarded as the preeminent maritime museum in the world. The Museum’s watercraft collection began with the acquisition of our first vessel in 1931, and has grown to 560 vessels in the collection, including four National Historic Landmark vessels. Nearly 75 percent of our vessel collection is currently in storage in the historic Rossie Velvet Mill. Aside from private tours, this remarkable collection has largely been hidden from public view, but plans are now underway to reveal these important artifacts and tell their stories in the American Watercraft Collection housed in the new Wells Boat Hall. 

Your support for the Wells Boat Hall project will allow public access to the American Watercraft Collection!


The watercraft collection at Mystic Seaport Museum began in 1931 with the acquisition of our first vessel, the sandbagger Annie. Over the past 90 years we have been building and curating the collection to create a three-dimensional encyclopedia of watercraft. The collection spans 182 years with crafts dating from 1824 (dugout canoe) to modern-day (Mini Transat racer). Among the largest in the world, and certainly the most diverse with 560 vessels, the watercraft collection is the signature collection within the vast holdings of the Museum; however, only a handful are currently on public display on Museum grounds or afloat on the river.

In addition to four National Historic Landmark vessels—the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan, the 1866 Noank wet-well smack Emma C. Berry, the 1908 steamboat Sabino, and the 1921 Gloucester fishing schooner L. A. Dunton—the Museum’s other noteworthy vessels include:

  • 1880 Annie Class A Racing Sandbagger
  • 1890 Catboat Great South Bay Catboat
  • 1913 Alerion lll Herreshoff Cabin Day-Sailer
  • 1947 Roann Eastern Rig Dragger
  • 1955 Skiff Thompson Sea Skiff
  • 1959 Analuisa Cuban Fishing Launch


A hallmark of the Museum is the in-water display of some of our most significant vessels, including four National Historic Landmark vessels. Like many museums and museum collections, nearly 75 percent of our vessel collection is in storage, currently in the historic Rossie Velvet Mill. Aside from private tours, this remarkable collection has largely been hidden from public view. Now after decades of planning, it is time for the collection to be revealed and for these important artifacts and their stories to be displayed to the public. 

The Wells Boat Hall will consist of 35,000 square feet of space in the Rossie Mill that will be converted from low-value warehouse space into high-value public exhibition space. Visitors will be immersed in fascinating sea stories, both historic and modern, as they wander among the watercraft collection filled with vessels from near and far. 

The project is estimated to require a $15,000,000 capital investment to convert the current warehouse space into a dynamic public exhibition, create an inviting new visitor entrance to the facility, make essential repairs to the existing roof, and upgrade the heating/cooling mechanicals to align with industry standards. As of June 2024, we have secured $8,000,000 in gifts and pledges. Work has begun and will take approximately 18 months to compete. 

Wells Boat Hall architect renderings and interior concepts by Cambridge Seven.


  • Conserve the historic Rossie Velvet Mill and develop it for use as public exhibition space. 
  • Preserve the signature small craft collection numbering more than 560 vessels, the largest and most diverse such collection in the United States. 
  • Allow full public access to the collection for the first time. 
  • Develop new learning experiences and programs to capitalize on educational opportunities. 
  • Expand the indoor visitor experience to reduce the challenge of inclement weather and seasonality. 
  • Create flexible space for community use for lectures, talks, presentations, and educational programs. 
  • Further develop the collection through accessioning and de-accessioning to ensure its relevance for the future. 


We invite you to join the growing number of individual donors, foundations, corporations, and government entities that have supported the Campaign for Wells Boat Hall. We need your help to ensure future generations can appreciate the maritime legacy that has shaped our nation. Set sail with Mystic Seaport Museum on this exciting journey.

Scheduled to open to the public in the fall of 2025, the Wells Boat Hall is named after local resident and longtime Museum Trustee Stan Wells and his wife Nancy Wells. 

“Mystic Seaport Museum has wanted, needed, and dreamed of having an indoor, all-weather display facility for more than forty years. We are pleased to help make that dream come true with the Wells Boat Hall, where the many stories tied to the vessels in the Museum’s collection will be revealed.” –Stan and Nancy Wells

Learn more in the brochure below.