Fourteen of the nation’s leading maritime scholars, historians, and advisors visited Mystic Seaport January 12-13, 2012 to assist in development of exhibit and programming for the Charles W. Morgan and her groundbreaking 38th Voyage. Set for the summer of 2014, the much-anticipated voyage of the last wooden whaleship in the world will include visits at historic ports of call along the northeastern seaboard.
Mystic Seaport Shipyard Director Quentin Snediker (in yellow) discusses the Morgan project with scholars.
The two-day charrette was made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Bridging Cultures Grant and was awarded to the Museum for its “In the Wake of the Whalers” program. Feedback from NEH reviewers has been quite positive for the program and its four key humanities themes: 1) The Cultural Crossroads of Globalization (cultural crosspollination), 2) Profit from the Deep (economic endeavors), 3) The American Sailor: Making an Icon (American identity), and 4) Thar She Blows: From Whale Hunt to Whale Watch (changing perceptions of the natural world).
Snediker and scholars visit the Morgan's hold.
Visiting scholars worked with Museum staff in the development of the program’s sub-themes, confirming that they are consistent with the best recent scholarship in the fields of maritime history, literature, art, and history of science. Mystic Seaport plans to match each subtheme to the best delivery system to maximize audience impact and understanding. Ultimately, the Museum will ensure that intellectual and research-grounded content is consistently strong across all formats and outcomes. Charrette results will move the Museum forward towards implementation of its final onsite, online, and onboard programming concepts.
Consulting scholars, historians, and advisors included:
- Jeff Bolster, Associate Professor of History at the University of New Hampshire
- D. Graham Burnett, Professor, History Department and Program in History of Science at Princeton University
- Stuart Frank, Director Emeritus of the Kendall Institute and Senior Curator at New Bedford Whaling Museum
- Lisa Norling, Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Minnesota
- Joe Roman, Conservation Biologist
- Helen Rozwadowski, Associate Professor of History and Maritime Studies Coordinator at the University of Connecticut
- Tim Runyan, Special Project Assistant in the Maritime Heritage Program for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration
- Elizabeth Schultz, Professor Emerita in the Department of English at the University of Kansas
- Nancy Shoemaker, Professor of History at the University of Connecticut
- Julie Winch, Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts, Boston
- Revell Carr, Assistant Professor at the School of Music, Theater and Dance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro
- Karen Jamison Wizevich, Ph.D. in Architecture/Museum Studies from Victoria University, New Zealand
- Jamie L. Jones; Professor of American Literature and Writing at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
- Jason Mancini, Senior Researcher at Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center.
For more information regarding the Morgan’s restoration, or to find out how you can help support the project, please visit www.mysticseaport.org/charleswmorgan.
There was no red carpet. Those of us arriving at Connecticut College‘s Palmer Auditorium on May 1st weren’t dressed in glittery finery or tuxedos. But the mood of anticipation and excitement was comparable to any Hollywood premiere, knowing we were about to view a film the general public won’t see until May 10th. That’s when Ric Burns‘ documentary, Into the Deep: America, Whaling & the World is scheduled to air on PBS.
The film is an awesome account of the era during which Mystic Seaport‘s Charles W. Morgan, now the last surviving wooden whaleship in the world, played an integral part. But aside from this wonderful historic and graphic film, I had a feeling of pride knowing the significant role Mystic Seaport staff played in the shooting of this film. Some appeared on camera, but many, many others participated in behind-the-scenes efforts to ensure the film’s authenticity regarding the rigors of life aboard a whaling ship. The amazing expertise of Mystic Seaport sailors was a major factor in exciting, live scenes shot aboard a variety of ships utilized by the filmmaker.
"Into the Deep" being filmed aboard the Charles W. Morgan at Mystic Seaport, September 2007
I wonder how many in the audience, like me, came away with a new respect for what Mystic Seaport is dedicated to doing….restoring the Charles W. Morgan to make her seaworthy once again in 2013. Any naysayers regarding that goal need to see this film.
Filming "Into the Deep" aboard the Charles W. Morgan at Mystic Seaport, Sept. 2007
The handout at Palmer Auditorium said: Be a Part of History: Help The Charles W. Morgan Sail Again. Each of us who gives any amount toward her restoration could, and really should, feel that way – a part of history.
What’s in your piggy bank? A little history in the making maybe? Think about it. (Donations gratefully accepted online or directly to Mystic Seaport, 75 Greenmanville Ave. Mystic, CT 06355).
Now don’t forget. Tune in American Experience on PBS – Monday, May 10, at 9 p.m. to watch Into the Deep. It’s a fascinating epic story covering three centuries of American whaling.
Blog written by Trudi Busey.
When’s the last time you read Moby-Dick? Have you ever? Brace yourself for a huge admission: I was an English major in college AND am a current employee of the nation’s leading maritime museum, and I’ve never read it. Sigh. I’m ashamed.
Well, if you’re like me — slightly surprised that this classic slipped through your reading list cracks and quite curious what all the fuss is about — get on down to Mystic Seaport. Our annual 24-hour reading of Moby-Dick begins today at noon. A costumed roleplyer kicks off the event reading chapter I, “Loomings,” and after that, it’s your turn. The round-robin reading continues into the night aboard the nation’s last surviving wooden whaler in our shipyard (what a setting, huh?) and concludes tomorrow in the late morning.
Note Melville's famous line quoted on this colorful whale found in our Playscape area...
Quite the event for quite a book. Join us and rediscover (or discover) one of the greatest novels in the English language. Don’t live a life of Melville shame like me.
- Erin Richard
It could be headlined as a “tree hugger’s” worst nightmare. A recent newspaper article told the sad story about the necessity of cutting down more than 40,000 trees in Galveston, Texas. The trees were irreparably damaged by the salt water storm surge Hurricane Ike boiled up in September 2008. Trees that have lost 50% of their canopy are being axed.
For some reason, what popped into my head after reading the article was Joyce Kilmer’s poem, Trees. Remember it?
The first verse goes like this: I think that I shall never see, A poem lovely as a tree. And the last verse: Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree. Whether spiritual or not, there does seem to be an emotional connection between mankind and trees.
Well, call it destiny or serendipity, but 80 of Galveston’s fallen evergreen oak trees will soon be transported to Mystic Seaport’s shipyard instead of ending up in a Texas landfill. That’s a good thing.
The trees’ lumber will be used to authentically rebuild the frame on the Charles W. Morgan whaling ship, now in dry dock and undergoing a three-year restoration. Quentin Snediker, director of the Museum’s shipyard, hopes that Galveston residents will feel somewhat compensated, knowing some of their fallen trees will have an important and historical role in the Morgan’s restoration. Ironically, the rich shipbuilding histories of Galveston, TX and Mystic, CT will now be forever linked because of Hurricane Ike’s devastation to that southern barrier island.
Perhaps someone should write a poem – or a sea shanty – about the trees of Galveston taking their place in maritime history at Mystic Seaport. Any poets or composers out there who care to give it a try?
Blog written by Trudi Busey
The Charles W. Morgan has a neighbor. Well, temporarily at least.
Amistad was hauled ashore in the Museum’s shipyard today. The vessel will be dry docked for the next two weeks to receive routine maintenance and a Coast Guard inspection.
Don’t miss your chance to see the freedom schooner and the world’s last wooden whaleship alongside each other on dry land. It’s quite a sight.
For more information about Amistad, visit www.amistadamerica.org.
|This week we meet shipwright, Rick Remenda, whose home turf at Mystic Seaport is the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard. Rick is a friendly, relaxed guy with a ready smile who is obviously happy and comfortable in his surroundings.
1. How long have you been at Mystic Seaport?
RR: I’ve worked in the shipyard for three years. I took an apprenticeship in traditional wooden boat building up in Rockland, ME, before coming on staff here. My family lives in Newington, CT, so that was a major draw to return to Connecticut.
2. What’s the best part of your job?
RR: Building boats! No surprise there. Another plus is working with a great bunch of guys. There are eight of us: Rob Whalen, Sean Kelly, Chris Taylor, Chris Nelson, Jeff Morris, Barry Peale, Trevor Allen and myself. We are all trained shipwrights, so we know what we’re doing and like what we do. My absolute favorite part of my job though is teaching the traditional wooden boat building classes. The class is limited to six, and we offer it twice a year. I’ve had students from as far away as France and from states across the country.
3. What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
RR: It’s hard to say what is most challenging. Almost every step in the restoration process is challenging, from building the scaffolding that gives you access to parts of the ship, to removing hull sheathing like we are just doing now on the Morgan. It’s slow and tedious work, but the end results are worth it. I worked on rebuilding the Roann, and look at her now.
4. What’s the funniest or most notable on-the-job experience you’ve had?
RR: It’s pretty funny seeing ourselves in the white protective suits and head gear that we have to wear during some of the restoration work on the Morgan. The suits are a safety factor to keep us from inhaling sawdust, protection from hazardous materials, etc. We look like we’re going to the moon.
5. What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?
RR: Outside of work I just enjoy hanging out with friends.
- Rick was interviewed by Museum Volunteer Trudi Busey and photographed by Mystic Seaport Photographer Dennis Murphy.
“It’s like climbing a mountain.” That was three-year-old Martha’s analogy when asked her opinion of the 48-step staircase that allows visitors to once again board the Charles W. Morgan.
The world’s last wooden whaleship was hauled and put in dry dock in November 2008 to undergo a three-year restoration. But until the Shipyard carpenters completed what many staff members have nicknamed “the tower staircase” or “the stairway to heaven,” Mystic Seaport visitors were unable to board the National Historic Landmark.
But don’t fear, the Morganis back in business now and steady streams of curious visitors have done their cardio workout with a trek up the staircase to board the vessel. Seriously, with platform breaks along the way (offering great spots to enjoy spectacular views), it’s a piece of cake.
Eve, a Museum visitor from Massachusetts, marveled at the sheer size of the Morgan’s entire hull, now exposed for all to see. She and fellow mom, Laura, brought their young children to Mystic Seaport during February Vacation Week and were delighted that the Morgan was accessible. “Phenomenal,” was Laura’s comment following their tour with Museum interpreter, Barry Keenan.
The children had their own favorite impressions during their visit. Norah was fascinated with the deck prisms. The hole in the table where one of the Morgan’s masts normally protrudes caught the attention of Shannon and her brother. Now residing inside the Shipyard, the children were able to look down upon the large masts from high above in the Gallery.
Now listen up sidewalk supervisors! Shipside scaffolding and other “amenities” will soon
allow visitors to observe the actual renovation work being done on the Morgan. You can actually watch history in the making!
There are so many cool things to observe at Mystic Seaport’s Shipyard. It’s fascinating – from the amazing shiplift that can hoist 580 long tons (one long ton = 2,240 lbs.), to the visitors’ gallery overlooking the carpenter shop, there’s so much to see and learn. It’s truly a world onto itself. Visitors of all ages will have fun exploring every nook and cranny.
And come June, visitors will have even more to explore when the Museum opens up Restoring an Icon in the Shipyard Gallery. The exhibit will feature objects and details regarding the restoration of one of the most precious pieces of American maritime history.
Don’t forget to check our website: www.mysticseaport.org for a calendar of daily Museum events, Morgan restoration updates and so much more.
Climb up the Stairway to Heaven and check out the Morgan and surrounding views.
Raise your hands if you believe Mystic Seaport is only a warm weather destination. WRONG! Granted, it’s a different experience once your flip-flops and t-shirts are traded for boots, scarves and heavy coats, but the Museum is a special year-round place.
There are plenty of things for you to ooh and ah about – besides the spectacular setting overlooking the historic Mystic River. For many of you, Mystic Seaport is just a short trip from where you live.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll take you through our formal exhibits and galleries. (All are heated, an added perk on a cold blustery day.)
This winter, there’s no need to suffer cabin fever. Come see us. You and the family can get a taste of maritime history, marvel at the restoration of the Charles W. Morgan whaling ship, stroll the now quiet village streets (buildings are closed for the season, but will re-open in early Spring), and perhaps stop in for a hot drink and a cup of chowder at the Seamen’s Inne, or maybe sample a pastry or a piece of fudge at the Bake Shop.
Sound good? You betcha! Check out the daily happenings at our website: www.mysticseaport.org and pick your day to visit. The welcome mat is out.
On November 1, 2008, the world’s last wooden whaleship, the Charles W. Morgan, was hauled from the water for the first time in eight years for an extensive three-year restoration. Some of the places which will be restored have not been seen or touched since her initial construction in 1841.
Whaling ships such as the Morgan were home for many sailors during long whale hunts. The Morgan’s longest voyage lasted four years 11 months. Her shortest voyage was ONLY eight and a half months. A crew of up to 35 would work the vessel. The Morgan hunted three varieties of whales – sperm, right and bowhead – all of which were considerably easier to catch compared to any other species, and yielded the oil and bone the industry was looking for. The Morgan could carry up to 90,000 gallons of whale oil.
Above and below are photographs taken after the Morgan’s initial lift. Notice her size and hull shape. The whaleship was an average size for her time period with a length of 105′ on deck and 133′ overall. The width of the boat (beam) is 27.7′. When sitting in the water, her draft (depth into the water) is 12.6′. However, fully loaded, she could draw as much as 17.6′(which is considered her registered depth. The vessel’s displacement is 313.75 tons which equals 627,500 pounds, or the equivalent of about 49 African elephants!
Stop by the Museum’s Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard on your next visit to Mystic Seaport and witness the Morgan’s restoration firsthand. It’s an event not to be missed!
Moving a 167-year-old boat is a very careful process. The conditions must be just right. The tide must be high and wind should be minimal, therefore making the move a less stressful on the vessel. The Charles W. Morgan took her first official steps toward her restoration voyage on Monday, October 20, at 12:30 p.m. With the help of push boats, a tug and the careful tending of lines, the whaleship pulled away from her berth for a three-year voyage.
Above the Morgan is being tended to by a tug and other push-boats. Being 167-years-old has its downfalls (though she looks pretty good for her age, right?). There is no engine aboard the authentic whaling ship, her movements are dependant on and controlled by the tug and push-boats as they prepare to maneuver her around Lighthouse Point, toward her final destination.
Seen here is the bow of the Morgan as she approaches the crowds of people waiting to greet her at the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard.
A big welcome for the old gal as the last lines are secured.
For more information on the Morgan’s restoration, visit www.mysticseaport.org.