Mystic Seaport Museum Receives $736,167 In Save America’s Treasures Grants

Funds Support Restoration of 1921 Fishing Schooner L.A. Dunton and Critical Preservation Work for the Museum’s Rosenfeld Collection of Maritime Photography

Mystic, CT – Mystic Seaport Museum announced it is the recipient of $736,167 in Save America’s Treasures grants to support the restoration of the L.A. Dunton fishing schooner and critical preservation work for the Rosenfeld Collection of Maritime Photography.

The National Park Service, in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts, awarded $4.8 million in Save America’s Treasures grants to help fund 16 projects in 12 states. The funds will support the preservation of nationally significant historic properties and collections throughout the country. Mystic Seaport Museum received two separate grants under the program.

“We are very grateful for this support because these generous awards recognize the importance of maritime history to the American story and the value the L.A. Dunton and the Rosenfeld Collection have in that narrative,” said Steve White, president of Mystic Seaport Museum. “These funds will save important pieces of history that are truly American treasures and which have a positive impact on the surrounding community.”

Built in 1921 in Essex, MA, the 123-foot-long L.A. Dunton is one of the last surviving examples of the Grand Banks fishing schooners, once one of New England’s most common fishing vessels in the beginning of the 20th century. The Dunton was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1994. The grant of $491,750 will support the acquisition of rare shipbuilding timber and other materials for the planned restoration of the vessel.

The second grant of $244,417 will fund the restoration, digitization, and rehousing of selected cellulose diacetate negatives from the Museum’s Rosenfeld Collection of Maritime Photography, which have been affected by a form of acetate film base deterioration. The Rosenfeld Collection, acquired by the Museum in 1984, is built on the inventory of the Morris Rosenfeld & Sons photographic business and is the largest archive of maritime photographs in the United States.

Diacetate negatives are subject to a natural process of degradation as the diacetate plastic mounts give off acetic acid in the presence of humidity and/or other environmental factors. The plastic mount shrinks and partially separates from the base, resulting in the formation of channels in the film. The resulting condition, “vinegar syndrome,” renders the negatives unusable. The grant will enable the Museum to preserve 3,500 affected negatives.

The federal Save America’s Treasures program, established in 1998, is managed by the National Park Service in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, with the objective of preserving nationally significant historic properties and museum collections for future generations of Americans. 

The Save America’s Treasures program has provided $315 million to more than 1,300 projects to provide preservation and conservation work on nationally significant collections, artifacts, structures, and sites. Requiring a dollar-for-dollar private match, these grants have leveraged more than $377 million in private investment, and contributed more than 16,000 jobs to local and state economies. 

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About Mystic Seaport Museum
Mystic Seaport Museum, founded in 1929, is the nation’s leading maritime museum. In addition to providing a multitude of immersive experiences, the Museum also houses a collection of more than two million artifacts that include more than 500 historic vessels and one of the largest collections of maritime photography. The iconic Thompson Exhibition Building is a state-of-the-art gallery that will host Death in the Ice: The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition, a major exhibition of one of seafaring’s most mysterious tragedies December 1, 2018 through April 28, 2019. Mystic Seaport Museum is located one mile south of Exit 90 off I-95 in Mystic, CT. For more information, please visit and follow Mystic Seaport Museum on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.