Mystic Seaport Opens ''Voyaging in the Wake of the Whalers'' June 20
New Exhibit Explores Impact and Influence of Iconic Industry
Mystic, CT – Mystic Seaport will open its newest exhibit, “Voyaging in the Wake of the Whalers”, on Saturday, June 20. The exhibit is a groundbreaking approach to the story of America and whaling that places 19th-century commercial whaling within its larger global and historical contexts. It also explores whaling’s complex and deep impact on the nation’s economy, culture, and global position, and how its cultural, historical, and environmental legacy continues to influence the nation and world today.
“Most people are familiar with whaling through the lens of popular culture or reading Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick,” said Steve White, president of Mystic Seaport. “’Voyaging in the Wake of the Whalers’ pushes past the common perception and the mechanics of whaling to show the richer and deeper stories of the peoples, places, ships, and whales that impacted and were impacted by the industry.”
The 4,400 square-foot exhibit was timed to follow the historic 38th Voyage of the Museum’s 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan in 2014, and is a complement to the experience of going on board the vessel at its berth within sight of the exhibit entrance. On display are more than 100 whaling-related historic artifacts and documents, including logbooks, photographs, tools, scrimshaw, ship models, and souvenirs, as well as moving images, oral histories, and sound recordings. Some of the artifacts and images are visitor favorites, while others have only recently been added to the collection and will be on public display for the first time.
Using artifacts and artwork alongside compelling audio-visual elements, immersive displays, and thought-provoking interpretation, the exhibit bridges the gap between the whalers’ world and the present day. A short film presents a content-rich, visually stunning introduction to the exhibit topic and themes, using high-definition footage shot during the 38th Voyage along with archival whaling footage and brief shots of people, artifacts, and stories to be explored more fully in the exhibit.
Touch-activated “Dive Deeper” information stations, featuring videos, timelines, digital maps, and games, will allow visitors to further explore the study of whales and the whaling industry. Visitors will also be able to search a database for crew members that sailed aboard the Charles W. Morgan and learn more about the vessel’s recent restoration.
To convey the global stories of whales, whaling, and whale research, a large three-dimensional projection globe showing all the world’s oceans will tell the universal stories of the Morgan and present contemporary research. Video programs will enable visitors to sail back to 1841 and follow the journey the Morgan took on her first whaling voyage, explore diversity aboard whaleships, and see how tracking whales has evolved over the past 200 years. In the words of guest curator Anne Witty, “The stories in this exhibit braid together people, whales, history, and culture. Here are tales of work and wonder, wealth and poverty, nature and society. Objects of work, struggle, and leisure. Images of violence and beauty, of forgotten people and lifeways that are strange to us today.”
The exhibit is semi-permanent and does not have a scheduled closing date.
As part of the opening, Captain Kip Files, the 22nd captain of the Morgan, will give a presentation at 7 p.m. on June 18 in the River Room of Latitude 41° Restaurant at Mystic Seaport. Files will talk about his experience commanding the ship during her 38th Voyage. The talk is free for Museum members and $10 per person for non-members. People can register by calling 860.572.5339.
“Voyaging in the Wake of the Whalers” has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence. Additional support was provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Connecticut Humanities, Capital Group, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, among other funders.
Images can be downloaded from the press section of the Mystic Seaport website.
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 state-of-the-art 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 $25 for adults and $16 for children ages 6-17. Museum members and children 5 and under are admitted free. For more information, please visit www.mysticseaport.org and follow Mystic Seaport on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
About the National Endowment for the Humanities
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.
About Connecticut Humanities
Connecticut Humanities, a non-profit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, provides opportunities to explore the history, literature and the vibrant culture that make our state, cities and towns attractive places to live and work. Learn more by visiting cthumanities.org.
Mystic Seaport Opens "Voyaging in the Wake of the Whalers" June 20