FALL/WINTER | 2023
A TRIBUTE TO THE
THE CURRENT THAT
MOVES US FORWARD
Your generous Annual Fund gift has direct and profound impact on everyone who visits Mystic Seaport Museum. Our visitors love the exhibits, the waterfront, our summer camps, the library, online programming, and our working shipyard. You and your gifts support it all.
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We need your SUPPORT by December 31, 2023.
MYSTIC SEAPORT MUSEUM MAGAZINE is a publication of Mystic Seaport Museum. PRESIDENT Peter Armstrong CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD Michael Hudner EDITOR Sherri K. Ramella firstname.lastname@example.org DESIGN Susan Heath CONTRIBUTING DESIGN Heather McGuigan CONTRIBUTORS Sarah Armour Peter Armstrong Jean Baur Christina Connett Brophy, PhD Ashlyn Buffum James T. Carlton, PhD Cindy Crabb Mary K. Bercaw Edwards, PhD Chris Freeman Jeanne Gade Katie Keogh Mary Koehler Georgina Lau Arlene Marcionette Juliona Martens Sophia Matsas Shannon McKenzie Margaret Milnes Anny Payne Brenna Pelletier Maria Petrillo Ryan Ramella Krystal Rose Elizabeth Rozmanith Liz Sistare Allison Smith Mary Anne Stets Tim Straw PHOTOGRAPHY Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration Dan Harvison Kent + Frost Landscape Architecture Joe Michael Dennis Murphy Mystic Seaport Museum Archives Andy Price Admiral James Stavridis President and Fellows of Harvard College ON THE COVER Aerial shot of the Mystic River, taken by Dan Harvison. CONTACT US Visitor Information: 860.572.5315 Administration: 860.572.0711 Advancement: 860.572.5365 Membership: 860.572.5339 Program Reservation: 860.572.5331 Museum Store: 860.572.5385 Volunteer Services: 860.572.5378 Please go to the Museum’s website for information on fall and winter schedules.
CONTENTS VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE.................................. 4 MUSEUM NEWS ............................... 6
Spotlight on Oceanus America and the Sea Award Gala Schooner Brilliant, Caring for a Legacy At the Helm New Programs on the Water Summer Junior Volunteers CCA Dock Rededication Summer Interns Make a Mark In With the Old, Morgan-Style
FEATURES ........................................... 14
Museum Announces Low Carbon Transformation Spineless: A Glass Menagerie of Blaschka Marine Invertebrates
SPECIAL: MYSTIC RIVER...............................18 Shipbuilding Emerges Along the Mystic River Mystic River Scale Model The Mystic River is a Muse for Many A Story of Community on the Mystic River A Drawbridge Tender’s View
ENVIRONMENT.............................30 The Threads that Bind Leading the Way in Blue Technology
MEMBERSHIP.................................32 Member Update Member Patio Upgrades
PILOTS..................................................... 35 50 Years of Friendship and Hard Work
BOOKS.......................................................36 UPCOMING EVENTS.............. 37 75 Greenmanville Avenue Mystic, CT 06355-0990 www.mysticseaport.org
HOLIDAY GIFT GIVING..... 38
A Message from the President
We are well into the autumn months, a time for reflection and looking ahead to the future. Recent transformations, both on campus and on the water, have merged the historic with the modern, incorporated STEM-based learning opportunities, and enhanced our visitors' ability to relax while being immersed in all that the American maritime experience has to offer. One of the highlights of the summer season was to see the return of Sabino to the Mystic River following the successful conversion of its engine from coalfired steam to diesel-electric. This transition has resulted in a carbon output reduction of 95% while allowing the Museum to accommodate hundreds of additional passengers, a testament to our commitment to environmental sustainability and the long-term success of the organization. The fact that Sabino can still convert back to steam illustrates that we will not forget that our work is rooted in history, but we will not allow ourselves to be stuck in the past. If I have discovered anything during my tenure here, it is that maritime history is always evolving, and that America’s relationship with the sea has changed dramatically during the almost century Mystic Seaport Museum has existed. This magazine is full of examples of how we participate in many new conversations and initiatives relating to the ocean—from the rise of shipbuilding along the Mystic River and the ensuing development of local community and commerce to the relationship between humans and the sea across the globe. The Museum is embracing all aspects of maritime history. As for myself, 2023 has been a year of looking back to look forward. I have reached that significant birthday that in the UK will allow me a free bus pass to ride public transport, I have become a grandad for the first time, and perhaps most significantly I am now a US citizen. Thank you to all those who have congratulated me. I look forward to contributing to the American way of life that so many other immigrants have done in the past. As we know, the sea connects us all. Your continued support is the wind in our sails as we set our sights on 2024 with renewed enthusiasm and a deep sense of gratitude.
4 / View from the Bridge
SPINELESS A Glass Menagerie of
Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, MCZ:SC:288 Glaucus lineatus. © President and Fellows of Harvard College.
C.D. Mallory Building
"Deeply grounded in scientific and historical research but expressed
with an artist’s mythic imagination, Rockman’s paintings are sobering yet visually bewitching." —Boston Globe
“The staggering centerpiece of the show, from which it draws its name, tells the story of the ocean from ecological, political and historical perspectives.” –Wall Street Journal
? words, Sophia
THE SPOTLIGHT ON OCEANUS Alexis Rockman: Oceanus opened in the Museum’s Collins Gallery in May of this year. The exhibition represents a shift in perspective at the Museum to raise awareness and inspire conversations around the critical global issues that face our oceans due to the impacts of maritime activities as part of our collective cultural, social, and economic heritage. Word has spread!
6 / Museum News
"The Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut is foregrounding ocean ecology in its first contemporary art exhibition, with new commissions by American painter Alexis Rockman" —The Art Newspaper “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 other-worldly 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.” —ArtDaily.com “. . . weaves together natural and maritime history,
bringing attention to the survival of marine creatures amid pollution and climate change.” —CT Examiner
“This show expertly intersects the interests of children, climate activists, and art lovers.” —Forbes
“New Show of Dazzling Watercolors Celebrating the Complexities of Ocean Life” —artnet
Museum Honors Admiral James Stavridis (USN, Ret.) On October 4, the Museum’s 18th annual America and the Sea Award Gala was held at the Metropolitan Club in New York City to honor Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret.), for his contributions to American maritime culture through his nearly four decades of service and numerous books and articles on leadership, character, risk, the oceans, and maritime affairs. Admiral Stavridis stated that receiving the award “is a culmination of a lifetime spent at sea, promoting the oceans, defending our nation on the seas, indulging in the beauty of the oceans, teaching this world of the sea, and all of that comes together in this prestigious award.” More than 200 people gathered to honor Admiral Stavridis and celebrate the nation’s leading maritime museum. The evening included a cocktail reception and conversation with Adm. Stavridis, dinner, award presentation, a lovely tribute video illustrating the level of respect and admiration felt by all for Admiral Stavridis and the tremendous impact he has had on the lives of so many. For the first time in many years the evening included music and dancing in the Great Hall as well as a maritime trivia contest that sent winners home with special prizes. It was an elegant, fun, memorable, and lively event enjoyed by all! We are grateful for all who participated in the paddle raise initiative, which raised funds for the Brilliant sailing program, described by Captain Sarah Armour as “impactful, introducing teenagers and adults to the thrill and challenge of life at sea.” The importance of the program is evidenced by its often transformational effect on the character development of the teens who participate. A heartwarming video was shared at the event and can be viewed at www.mysticseaport.org/gala. In all, the event raised approximately $600,000! A heartfelt thank you to our 2023 Gala Committee, Board of Trustees, sponsors, ticket buyers, and donors who gave in honor of Adm. Stavridis to further the mission of Mystic Seaport Museum. For information about the award as well as current and past award recipients, please visit www.mysticseaport.org/gala.
The America and the Sea Award is created from handblown glass by American glass artist Jeffrey P’an and set in a wooden base crafted from original wood from the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan.
We sincerely thank the following sponsors: PLATINUM Betsy and Hunt Lawrence GOLD Anonymous J. Barclay Collins, II Delamar Hotels Neuberger Berman Travelers SILVER Grant and Peggy Cambridge Glenmede Endowment and Foundation Management Pakis Family Foundation BRONZE American Water Arader Galleries Maarten de Jong and Kendra Matthew Renate and Peter Gleysteen Delphine and Michael Hudner Cynthia and Robert Martin Sheila McCurdy and David Brown Cayre and Alexis Michas Robert Musetti and Carol Allison-Musetti Laurie Olson and Maria Fasulo Risk Strategies | Gowrie Group Rockefeller Foundation Susan and Martin Wayne & Amy Baldwin and Hugh Davis Betsy and George White Wiggin and Dana Michael Wiseman and Helen Garten (X2) Sponsor list as of September 15, 2023
Museum News / 7
CARING FOR A LEGACY As we reach the end of Brilliant’s 91st sailing season, I reflect on what it’s taken to get us here. We are here because of the thousands of sailors who have voyaged onboard Brilliant, the countless hours of thoughtful care and maintenance, and the support of our diverse and dedicated community. The year 2023 marks 70 years of the schooner Brilliant, one of the finest wooden schooners ever built, serving as the Museum’s primary sail training vessel, introducing teenagers and adults to the thrill and challenge of life at sea. During this impactful 70th season with Mystic Seaport Museum, Brilliant sailed throughout New England waters, with trips to Maine and Martha’s Vineyard where we raced with student crews. Brilliant has taken thousands of students to sea, sailing the equivalent of more than five times around the globe, and impacting the self-confidence, self-esteem, and direction of many youth along the way. I am tremendously proud of this program and all that we have been able to accomplish. As we look ahead toward the future of Brilliant, we continue to build on the vessel’s legacy of sailing excellence with student crews while we actively work to expand the reach of the vessel and programs in the coming years. With sights set on ambitions and blue-water voyaging beyond New England and the Mid-Atlantic, we have sailings to Bermuda and the Canadian Maritimes in mind for future seasons. Goals of this nature require preparation and thoughtful planning; therefore, significant repairs and upgrades are expected to take place over the next two winters. Equipment and systems will be updated as necessary, with particular attention given to gear that has reached the end of its expected usefulness, and upgrades will be made to systems that fall short. The vessel’s engine will be replaced. Although very well-loved, it is becoming increasingly hard to find necessary parts for the Detroit Diesel. While the engine is out of the vessel, the aging vessel structure that sits under the engine will be addressed, including the replacement of several frame heels and keel bolts, along with caulking and partial refastening. From Brilliant’s transatlantic record in 1933 to the schooner’s current role operating as one of the oldest sail training programs in the country, Brilliant has a storied legacy and remains extraordinary. As Brilliant completes the 10th decade of sailing, we will continue to care for the vessel that has taken such good care of the thousands of young sailors across thousands of miles at sea. Sarah Armour, Captain of Schooner Brilliant
8 / Museum News
Captain Annie Kelly
Captain Liz Sistare Captain Sarah Armour
While the Museum employs many seasonal staff on board the wide range of operational vessels during the summer, only three captains work year-round: Annie Kelly, Sarah Armour, and Liz Sistare. Annie spends most of her time running day sails and multi-day charters aboard schooner Rebecca, Sarah runs educational programs aboard schooner Brilliant, and Liz runs the Sailing Center, home of sailing camps and community sailing programs. In addition to being responsible for the safe operation of their vessels, each captain performs daily and long-term maintenance on their vessels, participates in races on the river and with other classic yachts around New England, provides an enjoyable time on the water for guests, and perhaps most impactful, teaches both children and adults how to sail. Annie started sailing on Cape Cod as a seven-year-old and has been teaching sailing since she was a teen. One of her earliest experiences aboard a schooner inspired her to get her license and become a captain. She said, “There are so many things I love about sailing: the community, the challenges, the rewards, the beauty, the travel . . . Rebecca is the kind of boat I would drop anything for the opportunity to work on board.” Annie appreciates that there is a concentration of expert knowledge among the staff at the Museum to call on for help and who are willing to teach her something new.
Sarah has been working in environmental education, sail training, and experiential learning for the past decade. Growing up in the Hudson Valley, Sarah’s family was very involved with the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. As a teenager, Sarah spent her time sailing and teaching aboard the sloop and developed a love and appreciation for being on the water. After graduating from Cornell University, Sarah went on to work aboard many other sail training vessels including Pride of Baltimore II, Lady Maryland, and Geronimo, where she worked her way up from a deckhand, to a bosun, an engineer, a watch leader, and a chief mate, earning her 200-ton Masters (Captain’s) License along the way. At the Museum, Sarah ran the charter boat Mamie and the catboat Breck Marshall on the Mystic River, where she developed valuable single-handed boat handling skills before serving as mate and now Captain and Program Supervisor of Brilliant. As Brilliant nears its 100th anniversary in 2032, the Museum looks forward to the legacy of this extraordinary vessel continuing under Sarah’s leadership. Liz first sailed in a college Intro to Sailing class when she was 19 and was hooked immediately. She spent her college years sailing small boats and in her senior year had an opportunity to sail aboard the USS Niagara for a May term study program,
which inspired her to consider a career in sail training and teaching. She went on to work as a camp director and crew aboard a schooner, preparing her to join the Museum to run the Sailing Center programs aboard the fleet of Dyer Dhows and small power boats. Liz gets called on to drive many of the Museum vessels ranging from providing cruises along the waterfront aboard Sabino to taking guests on downriver charters aboard Little Vigilant, her favorite boat to drive! When she first became a captain, she “liked the challenge of multi-tasking: making decisions, managing crew, and interacting with passengers, along with handling the boat.” A long-time racer, both day and offshore, she bought a J24 this summer to race locally. Liz said, “the experience of getting to drive such a variety of boats here at the Museum has increased my ability to anticipate how boats will handle and allowed me to expand my boat handling skills and instincts.” The opportunity to access such a wide variety of vessels is certainly unique. Liz has accepted the position as Captain of Sabino and will share her experience and knowledge of the Mystic River with thousands of Museum visitors. All three captains express an evident enthusiasm and enjoyment of their craft that is contagious to all who join them on their vessels. Shannon McKenzie, Vice President of Museum Operations
Museum News / 9
Campers from our Sea Stars program this summer on the Mystic River
NEW PROGRAMS ON THE WATER Mystic Seaport Museum has never offered your “typical” youth sailing program. The Museum’s program has incorporated sailing in traditional Dyer Dhow dinghies with fun games and challenges using the Museum grounds and ships—for 75 years! Generations of sailors got their start sailing on a Dyer on the Mystic River. The program has been expanded to offer new ways for people to learn skills and experience the River. Earlier this year, the Museum’s Sailing Center was recognized by US Sailing with the Creative Innovations in Programming Award for community sailing centers for our commitment to offer sailing classes that incorporate additional important skills. The new programs now offered include powerboat handling, Girl Scout Mariners, and the Sea Star summer camp.
10 / Museum News
At the start of 2020 we made plans to expand our programming to include powerboat handling and engine maintenance through the support of the J. Orin Edson Seamanship Program. Through this program we purchased a 20’ center console, Alice, to use in teaching coastal navigation and hands-on boat handling skills. We also purchased five small inflatable boats with tiller outboards. The inflatable boats are used throughout the summer in the counselor-in-training program. The Museum’s teenage volunteers have the opportunity to learn powerboat handling and how to independently instruct sailors from powerboats. Powerboating and seamanship have been built into all of our existing programs and classes. Having just become a US Powerboat certified powerboating instructor myself, I look forward to doing more specific powerboat programs in the future.
SUMMER JUNIOR VOLUNTEERS
The program aims to provide fun on the water
as well as to introduce girls to potential careers in the maritime industry.
In the spring of 2022 Sarah Armour, Captain of schooner Brilliant, Elizabeth Kristian, Supervisor of Working Waterfront Programs, Robin Nevins, Head Rigger, and I formed a Girl Scout Mariners troop. Girl Scout Mariners has been a part of Girl Scouts since it was founded in Rhode Island in 1934 and provides teen Girl Scouts, grades 8 to 12, an opportunity to engage deeply in water-focused activities. As Mariners, Girl Scouts develop skills in a variety of areas and explore careers related to water and the environment, fitting well with the youth development fostered at the sailing center and on schooner Brilliant. Currently, there are ten girls in the Museum’s troop participating in water-based programming once a month throughout the school year. They have experienced sailing on a variety of boats, powerboating, marine science, knot tying, whaleboat rowing, and hands-on maritime trade programs in the Museum’s village. Many of them also attend Conrad Camp, sail on schooner Brilliant, or volunteer as a counselor-in-training at the sailing center during the summer. The program aims to provide fun on the water as well as to introduce girls to potential careers in the maritime industry. To further expand our reach to a new age group, the Sea Stars camp program, utilizing a new fleet of six Zim Prams, was introduced this summer as a half-day camp for children ages 6-7. It was a huge hit, selling out all three sessions! The new boats are also used for our younger kids during both Conrad Camp and day camps. Having a smaller boat option for our smaller sailors allows us to teach more intermediate skills to campers who are ready to sail solo but are too small to keep a Dyer Dhow upright on a breezy afternoon. I’m really excited for the start of these new programs and hope to continue to expand access to the river through diverse program offerings. Liz Sistare, Supervisor of the Sailing Center
These close friends spent the summer volunteering together in the Boathouse and getting visitors out on the river.
Started more than 30 years ago, the Museum’s Junior Volunteer Program gives teens from ages 13 to 18 the opportunity to work with our visitors through Interpretation programs, Education camp programs, Boathouse rentals, and more. The goal of the program is to help young people find a space that fits their interests, builds their confidence, and develops life skills. This summer fifty students from across southeastern Connecticut were welcomed into the program. Walking around the Museum, visitors may interact with our Junior Volunteers while building toy boats, playing games on the green, fishing with Summer Day Campers, or renting out row boats to enjoy the river. This summer we expanded the program to allow one of our Junior Volunteers to explore his love of gardening while working with our grounds crew once a week. The program is an essential part of the Museum's summer operations, and we are thrilled to continue engaging teens in this meaningful and impactful way.
Museum News / 11
CCA DOCK REDEDICATION
Originally dedicated in 1948 by Museum Chairman P.R. Mallory and Cruising Club of America (CCA) Commodore Thorvald Ross, the CCA dock at Mystic Seaport Museum has been welcoming visiting mariners for 75 years and has become a symbol of our shared respect for our maritime heritage. In the summer of 2022, the docks were reconstructed as floating docks, with an additional 200 feet of dock space, and on June 22, 2023, members of the CCA attended a rededication ceremony at the Museum to celebrate this modernization. President Peter Armstrong and Museum Chairman of the Board Michael Hudner welcomed guests which included the CCA commodore Chris Otorowski and CCA Vice Commodore Jay Gowell. Museum Trustee Emeritus and CCA Member Frank Bohlen yelled out “Fire in the Hole!” as the plaque commemorating the rededication of the dock was unveiled. The CCA cannon rang out to the guests’ collective applause and glasses were raised to toast the next chapter in the rich history between Mystic Seaport Museum and the Cruising Club of America.
SUMMER INTERNS MAKE A MARK This past summer, Mystic Seaport Museum hosted seventeen interns, the most diverse group thus far at the Museum. Students from across the country, with different backgrounds and educational experiences, worked on projects related to the upcoming Entwined exhibit as well as in Curatorial, Human Resources, Finance, IT, Marketing, Advancement, Interpretation, and the President’s office. Bringing together unique backgrounds in a collaborative environment fostered creativity and innovation. As the interns shared their cultural insights, they helped to create a more inclusive and understanding work community. Interns worked alongside Museum staff and offered fresh approaches to problem-solving, challenging conventional thinking and encouraging adaptability. By embracing diversity in summer internships, the Museum continues its work to cultivate an environment that celebrates differences and nurtures talent, resulting in a more resilient and successful workforce, which ensures a brighter and more inclusive future. The Museum is grateful to its partners from the Mellon Foundation-funded Reimagining New England Histories Project and Smithsonian Affiliations’ 2023 Leadership for Change Internship in cooperation with the Emerson Collective Youth Collaborative, as well as donors to the 2022 America and the Sea Award Gala paddle raise and others who were instrumental in providing funding for the internship program.
12 / Museum News
Shipwright Manni Portes works on the trunnel (tree nail) fastenings of the Morgan-inspired countertops built in the Henry B. du Pont Preservation Shipyard woodshop this summer.
IN WITH THE OLD MORGAN-STYLE
The Museum recently played a key role and backdrop for the Magnolia Network show In With the Old. The premise of the show follows designers, builders, and old-home enthusiasts on their journey of reimagining historical homes to give them new purpose. Unlike Fixer Upper, which featured the Magnolia Network founders Chip and Joanna Gaines’ journey to remodel homes for their clients in and around Waco, Texas, each episode of In With the Old follows the projects of homeowners through their own restoration experiences.
need of a larger table. The ultimate satisfaction is being able to see what often takes weeks of hard work, sweat, and sacrifice wrapped up nicely in just one hour.
Fans of home remodeling shows know that there is a relatively consistent recipe of elements for successfully drawing in and engaging the viewer: the audible sound of a hammer hitting nails, the demolition of a kitchen that has seen better days, and ultimately the evolution of what often seems like a hopeless disaster of a house into one’s dream home. Woven intricately between those scenes is the exploration of design elements, taking viewers on a journey as the host visits an antique shop to find perfect pieces that harmonize the home with its new owners, or visits a local woodworker to build a custom table that perfectly accommodates the needs of the expanding family in desperate
This summer, Scott Gifford, Project Manager and Lead Shipwright at the Henry B. du Pont Preservation Shipyard, spent the day in front of the camera as he explored design inspiration with Rebecca aboard the Charles W. Morgan and across the Museum. They looked at various species of wood, planking styles, and trunnel (tree nail) fastenings. This will culminate in a Morganinspired kitchen countertop crafted by the talented shipwrights at Mystic Seaport Museum and will forever link a local homeowner’s special old home with the Museum’s distinctive old boat!
The aesthetic antique shop visits can be viewed as the caulking of a boat. Where the actual wood and nails are necessary to form the structure, it’s the caulking that seals it tight and makes it seaworthy. When the producers of the show and local designer turned host, Rebecca Lineberry, reached out to the Museum to get inspiration for the kitchen countertops of a local Old Mystic historical home, we couldn’t think of a better way for the Museum to be involved than to be the metaphorical “caulking of the boat.”
Sophia Matsas, Vice President of Marketing and Communications
Museum News / 13
ABOVE: Mark Boughton, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services; Hank Webster, Deputy Commissioner of Energy at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP); Richard Blumenthal, United States Senator; Aundré Bumgardner, Connecticut State Representative; Danielle Chesebrough, Stonington First Selectman; Deborah Downie, Stonington Selectwoman; Heather Somers, Connecticut State Senator; Peter Armstrong, Mystic Seaport Museum President RIGHT: Solar panels on the roof of the historic Rossie Mill
MUSEUM ANNOUNCES LOW CARBON TRANSFORMATION
On July 29, one of the hottest days in the hottest July on record, the Museum announced its groundbreaking low-carbon transformation strategy. Dignitaries from national and state governments joined President Peter Armstrong to hear of plans that will see the Museum further reduce its environmental impact wherever possible, be it through implementing renewable energy sources, energy-efficient infrastructure upgrades, or adopting environmentally sustainable practices throughout the institution’s operations. These new efforts will be a continuation of the great work already done, including the use of geothermal heating and cooling in the Thompson Exhibition Building, the installation of solar panels on the roof of the historic Rossie Mill which houses the Collections Research Center, and the initiative to reduce single-use plastics for which the American Alliance of Museums recognized the Museum. Fittingly the announcement took place in front of Sabino, whose recent engine conversion has resulted in a 95% reduction of the vessel's carbon footprint. With such a huge threat as climate change, it is easy to feel that the Museum’s individual efforts appear insignificant against the challenges the world faces. The actions of this museum could be seen as just a drop in the ocean. However, we at Mystic Seaport Museum believe that the sea connects us all and any action we take as America’s leading maritime museum, no matter how small, has a ripple effect that can create meaningful change. As the Museum heads toward its Centennial in 2030, we have made this commitment to recognize that the preservation of our shared heritage is vital if we wish to make a difference in the future. As President Kennedy said, “We have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean.” Peter Armstrong, President
14 / Feature
“I am excited and proud that Mystic Seaport Museum is taking this dramatic step to confront climate change. Undergoing a low carbon transformation by 2030 demonstrates its commitment to the future with resilience and resolve. Connecticut’s rich maritime history is full of powerful lessons about innovation and ingenuity, shown again by the Mystic Seaport Museum,” — Connecticut’s senior US Senator, Richard Blumenthal
Feature / 15
SPINELESS A Glass Menagerie of
Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, MCZ:SC:330 Syphonota viridescens. © President and Fellows of Harvard College.
16 / Feature
“Three naked mollusc(s)” wrote the young sailor-naturalist William Edwin Safford on the USS Vandalia in the South Atlantic in October 1886. An astute observer of floating sea life, Safford, whose journal is now in the collections of Mystic Seaport Museum, chronicled and drew many now-famous sea creatures, including the Portuguese man o’ war and the by-the-wind sailor, two soft-bodied marine invertebrates related to sea anemones. He also beautifully illustrated what he described as a “naked mollusc,” a pelagic snail now known as the blue dragon sea slug or nudibranch, Glaucus lineatus. This tiny, peculiar creature feeds on the venomous Portuguese man o’ war, transforming its stinging cells into its own toxins and enabling it to deliver a sting. Glaucus supports magnificently frilled winglike extensions that help it float in the sea’s surface tension. So keen were Safford’s observations that he recorded what marine scientists in the 20th century would eventually explain as evolutionary counter-shading. Safford noted his slug “was of a light blue color and deep indigo below.” We now know that their light blue permits them to blend in with the sea surface, thus being less detectable by predators. Another species of sea slug he recorded “was so translucent that I could see its heart beating.”
Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, MCZ:SC:288 Glaucus lineatus. © President and Fellows of Harvard College.
These were the extraordinary chronicles of a young “citizen scientist” at sea in the 1880s. Around the same time, German father-and-son glassmakers Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka were also documenting the exact same species through a medium they knew best: glass. The elder Blaschka, whose early work included botanical models, had been mesmerized in 1853 by invertebrates he also observed on an ocean voyage. A decade later Leopold created his first glass invertebrates, inspired by the drawings and descriptions of the famous naturalist Phillip Henry Gosse. By the mid-1870s, the Blaschkas’ invertebrate production expanded as museums and universities took an increasing interest. By 1888, Ward’s Natural History Establishment offered 700 different, often extraordinarily fragile, glass invertebrate models for teaching and display purposes. While today the Blaschkas are remembered more for their glass flowers, from the 1860s to the 1880s they focused their work on an invertebrate menagerie, including jellyfish, sea anemones, mollusks, sea squirts, sponges, and many more.
Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, MCZ:SC:49 Phyllactis praetexta. © President and Fellows of Harvard College.
The new exhibition Spineless: A Glass Menagerie of Blaschka Marine Invertebrates features over forty of these magnificent glass models, on loan from the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University and other institutions. The models are presented alongside sailors’ journals and rare books containing sketches, watercolors, descriptions, and early photographs—giving an amazing look into the beginnings of natural history documentation at sea. The exhibition also features “wet specimens” in jars highlighting the challenges and successes of preserving invertebrates for study. When alive and in their natural habitats, many species, especially those with soft bodies, present vibrant colors and unusual shapes. But when preserved, they may quickly become colorless and shapeless. The unique opportunity to view sketches and specimens juxtaposed with their glass representations makes it clear why the Blaschka models, capturing the forms, anatomical details, and brilliant colors of these sea creatures, were such a success.
Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, MCZ:SC:22 Actinoloba reticulata. © President and Fellows of Harvard College.
Documenting marine invertebrates thrives today in the Museum’s own back yard. Spineless co-curator Dr. James T. Carlton, Director Emeritus of the Coastal and Ocean Studies Program of Williams College and Mystic Seaport Museum, is one of the world’s leading experts on marine invertebrates and introduced species. Many of the invertebrates that he and his colleagues study are represented by the exhibited Blaschka models along with a short film about his decades-long work documenting the marine life carried for centuries around the world by ships, intricately blending maritime history and marine biology. Featured as well are thought-provoking pieces by contemporary artists, no doubt inspired by the exquisite glasswork of the Blaschkas. Spineless, which opened to the public on October 21, will be on display until late summer 2024. Krystal Rose, Curator of Collections
Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, MCZ:SC:60 Sagartia ornata. © President and Fellows of Harvard College.
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Silent Except for The way of water Pushed in by the tide Out on its own accord Brackish, Lapping at the edges. Deep down Near the bottom Where fish live In murky darkness Is the real river. Mud bottom, Sediment Broken shafts of light Wavering– Sometimes a lure, Or the wide hull Of a boat overhead. Some days busy With motors, paddles That break the surface And then go by. Down here The river is unchanged From when glaciers retreated And there was no one, Then native tribes Settlers And now the busy people Us. When you glance At this river, When you cross the drawbridge, Go about your day, Remember the mystery How time is held and slips away Here by the Mystic River. — Jean Baur, Museum Member
THE MYSTIC RIVER
SHIPBUILDING EMERGES ALONG THE MYSTIC RIVER Glass negative, taken by Everett A. Scholfield; view of Mystic from west side of Mystic River, looking toward Greenmanville, showing present site of Mystic Seaport Museum including the Stillman Building, Rossie Velvet Co., and Adams Point. (1983.77.3).
The intertwined history of the Mystic River and the Indigenous peoples of this region cannot be separated. Mystic Seaport Museum wishes to acknowledge that the land and waters we reside on today are in the original homeland of the Pequot tribal nations. We acknowledge the painful history and honor the Eastern Pequot and Mashantucket Pequot peoples still connected to this land. Settled by colonists in 1654, Mystic has grown into a thriving village and the Mystic River is at its heart. Mystic received its name from the Pequot term “missituk,” meaning great tidal river. During the early colonial years, the estuary known today as the Mystic River was not considered of particular importance, but as time went on it became a center of shipbuilding. In 1954 Phillip R. Mallory, then President of the Marine Historical Association, addressed the Newcomen Society upon the 300th anniversary of Mystic and the 25th anniversary of “Mystic Seaport,” the 19th-century New England coastal village recreated by the Marine Historical Association. In his remarks titled Mystic Seaport—And the Origins of Freedom Mallory speaks about the history of the area surrounding the Mystic River and its evolution into a shipbuilding center: “. . . in the heart of this small river valley, scarcely five miles long, and within whose confines there were cradled a group of early settlers whose activities resulted in accomplishments of a significance far beyond their actual size or apparent importance.” In his remarks, Mallory frequently refers to Carl C. Cutler, one of the founders of the Marine Historical Association. Cutler describes the terrain found in New England by the first Pilgrim settlers in the middle of the 17th century: The Pilgrims had set out for the supposedly mild, pleasant climate of “Northern Virginia,” convinced that they would find rich plantations and a store of mineral wealth. Instead, they came “to a howling wilderness.” They found rough, wooded, boulder strewn hills and deep ravines, alternating with
Shown here, probably in 1918, one of three 1,528-ton wooden steamships of standarized design built at the Noank Yard for the Emergency Fleet Corporation (1974.1037.4).
Originally an avocation, shipbuilding began to grow as the advantages of the New England shoreline for shipbuilding became apparent. Surrounding areas such as Boston at one point had as many as twenty shipyards, and New London County had double that number. The unique coastline creates a special access to the water that benefited the industry of shipbuilding. Cutler goes on to describe the unique qualities of the area: Long stretches of coastline had neither rivers nor coves. For twenty miles eastward from Watch Hill, for instance, there was not a single potential shipyard site. From Watch Hill westward for twenty-five miles, it was a different story. Every mile or two along the entire coast of New London County, tidal streams thrust deeply northward into magnificent stands of hard-wood. Each channel afforded readymade yards and tapped vast timber resources. One of these to which the Indians had given the name “Missituck” was barely five miles in length. Yet, a little village was to be established on its shores which was to become famous wherever ships floated. However, the arrival of settlers to Mystic was slower than the growing populations in New London. According to Mallory:
Rigged and ready to be towed out of the Mystic River in the fall of 1868, the handsome new Mallory-built ship Annie M. Smull lies at Mallory Wharf along Holmes Street on the Stonington side of the river. The white building beneath the Smull's bowsprit and the Methodist-Episcopal church steeple is the sail loft of Issac D. Clift, built about 1839 and owned by Charles Mallory and moved to the Museum in 1951 (1972.882.10).
worthless swamp and arid plain, where they had looked for smooth, fertile fields ready for the plow. They encountered a climate harsher than any they had known or conceived. . . . It is to their credit that they faced undaunted a harsh, laborious alternative. . . . for two centuries forest and sea were the central facts of [the New England pioneer’s] life. He learned to do a hundred things, but above all, he became a hewer of wood and a sailor of the sail.
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The reasons are not certain, but were probably several. New London possesses one of the great harbors of New England and was a natural stopping place for newcomers coasting along the shore. Stonington, too, had a small but protected harbor immediately adjacent to excellent fishing grounds. Furthermore, there were flat fields nearby which though stony like most of New England seem to have been less repellent than the average, and easy of access as well. The Mystic Valley, with rocky sides, very heavily wooded, ends in a winding and, to sailing craft, rather tortuous estuary. It is three miles from the open water to the protected areas at the Valley mouth. During this stretch strong tides and currents could easily set a vessel on sunken rocks or a hidden mud bank. Furthermore, the Mystic River was the dividing line between the townships of Groton and Stonington, and the area seems to have been considered a “no man’s land” between the two. Mallory further explains, “Very soon after the first settlers came to New London County, the need for a steady supply of new craft of all kinds, ranging from small fishing smacks, to sloops and coastwise carriers, became apparent.” The demand for water transport increased over time, and the need for shipping allowed Mystic to flourish, as “here the conditions seem to have been ideal.” The River had short haul advantages and natural shipbuilding sites as well as shipwrights living along the shores.
“One cannot even venture a guess as to the number of vessels built on the Mystic during the century and a quarter which elapsed between the launching of the first ship in 1662 and 1789, the year the United States Customs Service was established. . . . The number was undoubtedly substantial,” Cutler wrote.
Main shop, Henry B. du Pont Preservation Shipyard building, under construction (71-1-97).
The trade of shipbuilding grew in all aspects such as rope walks, sail and rigging lofts, ship chandlers, cooper shops, block and trunnel makers, figurehead carvers, mast hoop makers, and shipsmith shops. Quality of ships also put Mystic on the map according to Mallory, “It was not the quantity alone that the Mystic record is based, for she produced a record equally brilliant in the sturdy quality and speed of her vessels, the ability of local captains and shipmasters, and the leadership in pioneering voyages and in commercial initiative of her citizens . . . ” Mystic gained quite the reputation, as Cutler points out, “Mystic was for a time to produce more noted captains, a greater tonnage of fine ships and a larger number of important sailing records than any place of its size in the world.” Curator William N. Peterson literally wrote the book on this topic titled Mystic Built: Ships and Shipyards of the Mystic River, Connecticut, available on the Museum’s website. Today Mystic Seaport Museum sits along this famed Mystic River on what was once meadow and marshy land purchased by brothers Clark, George, and Thomas Greenman in 1837. The three brothers were local shipbuilders in Westerly, Rhode Island, at their father’s shipyard. The Greenmans’ shipbuilding dates to the 1820s. As the local need for vessels increased, the brothers established their own shipyard known as the George Greenman and Co. Shipyard where the Museum is today. The Mystic River was an ideal spot, within reach of the ocean, and calm enough to launch wooden vessels. The Shipyard’s location on the estuary allowed for easy access to the water to create a launch for the vessels that would be built here. Over time, the Greenmans became important leaders within the village of Mystic, providing employment opportunities for many and working together to manage, oversee, and build hundreds of vessels along the Mystic River. As the great Age of Sail gave way to steamships and railroads, wooden ships and boats were turned into firewood and the nation’s seafaring traditions began to wane in Mystic. Three Mystic residents united to keep the past alive, and on Christmas Day in 1929, Edward E. Bradley, an industrialist, Carl C. Cutler, a lawyer, and Charles K. Stillman, a physician, founded the Marine Historical Association to preserve these rapidly disappearing artifacts of maritime history. The three men coming from different backgrounds shared a love for the stories of maritime history. Phillip Mallory says, “This organization was dedicated by
its three inspired founders to the preservation of those origins of freedom which stemmed so largely from our maritime way of life. What you see on these grounds represents what has been physically achieved to aid in the perpetuation of that inheritance.” The Museum has occupied the space of the historic George Greenman and Co. Shipyard for 94 years, keeping alive the history of past shipyards along the Mystic River that supplied jobs and created the start of a long-standing community. In 1972 the Henry B. du Pont Preservation Shipyard opened, the first shipyard built specifically for preservation in the United States, and possibly the world. Guided by the echoes of generations past, the shipwrights of Mystic Seaport Museum continue to maintain and restore vessels along the Mystic River. Mystic Seaport Museum has continued to grow and flourish within the community of Mystic and has created and maintained a strong connection with the Mystic River. To this day visitors to the Museum may arrive by boat on their own voyages of discovery. Those who come by car can get out on the River in search of their own sea story. As we plan for the Museum’s centennial, we are bringing our storytelling, collecting, and public programs forward in time, exploring the intersection of maritime heritage and contemporary society. To quote Phillip R. Mallory, “It would be pleasing to argue that the exceptional maritime record of Mystic during these 3oo years, in both war and peace, was due somehow to the superior quality of its first citizens. However, it may be more realistic to believe that much was due to the natural advantages of the Mystic Valley. . .”
These two unidentified sloops are typical of the fishing vessels that were so important to Mystic's early shipbuilders, built also at Noank and other southeastern Connecticut towns. They are moored in the Mystic River opposite Mallory's Wharf, astern of the Mallory-built steamer Aurora. These sloops had a reputation for an almost yacht-like appearance and were clearly a handsome and distinctive type, averaging about 30 tons (1959.848.13).
By Juliona Martens, intern from Keene State College
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Begun in 1958, the Mystic River Scale Model was created by a staff of model builders and artists which included S. Jerome Hoxie, Arthur Payne, Bob Morse, Jerry Aycrigg, and Ted McCagg to illuminate the historical community along the Mystic River. Extensively researched and created from historical photographs and hand-drawn maps to ensure the accuracy of the buildings and ships, the Model was built entirely from scratch except for the people and animals, which were purchased in railroad TT scale. Set to an architectural scale of 3/32":1' to fit onto a forty-foot-long by twelve-foot-wide base, the model was opened for display in 1961 after three years of initial model development and the construction of the building in which it resides today. The Model shows one mile of the Mystic River and its environs, providing a visual depiction of life along the Mystic River during its shipbuilding and shipping heyday between the years 1850 and 1875. From the Mystic Ironworks and Woolen Mill (that made Civil War uniforms) on the South end to the Greenman & Co. Shipyard
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at the North end (where Mystic Seaport Museum exists now), the town and shipyards teem with life. Just north of the Woolen Mill is Cottrell Lumber Company, the first lumber yard in Connecticut and the second in New England. Across the river is the Burrows house, which has since been moved to become part of the Museum’s seaport village. The drawbridge in the center of the Model is located where the modern bascule bridge is today. North of the drawbridge on the west side of the river is St. Mark’s Church, which still stands in its original location. Back on the east side of the river is the Seventh Day Baptist Church which has since been moved to the Museum’s North end and renamed the Meeting House. At the very North end of the Mystic River is the Hughes house, also relocated to the Museum forming part of the Museum Store. The largest ship shown in the Model is the David Crockett, built at a cost of $96,000 and launched in 1853 from the Greenman & Co. yard. In 1986 additional work was done on the Model by Bob Morse and
MYSTIC RIVER MYSTIC RIVER SCALEMODEL MODEL SCALE
Arthur Payne, and shortly thereafter a volunteer group was formed by Arthur to continue the work. LED lighting was added to buildings to augment the recorded audio/visual programming. The work of further research, building, corrections, repairs, and cleaning continues to this day.
is nothing short of amazing.” Visit the Mystic River Scale Model on the Museum’s village green. Tim Straw, Anny Payne, and Cindy Crabb, Museum Volunteers
Over the years the volunteers have included Anny Payne, Cindy Crabb, Tim Straw, Dave Olson, Nick Dombrowski, and Rob Groves. The work continues as a labor of love by longtime, dedicated volunteers in order to “bring it to life” as the original co-creator Art Payne used to fondly say. The Mystic River Scale Model offers visitors a detailed overview of the Museum’s grounds and surrounding area as it was prior to the Museum’s founding. Whether historian or history buff, the Scale Model is the perfect place to begin a visit and get your bearings. William Peterson, author of Mystic Built and former Museum Curator of Collections, once said of the Model: “The historical accuracy
The historical accuracy is nothing short of amazing.
—Bill Peterson, author of Mystic Built Mystic River / 25
“This program has put me on
a better path than I was on because everybody here is all about
hard work. I just matched the energy.”
Eddy, a participant in our Maritime Adventure Program, gets hands-on experience operating powerboats while helping our sailing instructors teach campers on the water.
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In 1994, yacht builder, preservationist, and Mystic Seaport Museum trustee, Waldo Howland, wrote his article, “The River, The River, The River.” With great fondness, the late Howland described the Mystic River as a “unique jewel” which “is ideal for our expressed purposes, and naturally beautiful in itself . . . The alluring strength of this special enchantment may perhaps only be fully recognized by some of our visitors, but its subtle essence will be felt by all.” Decades after Howland’s reflections, his sentiments remain relevant in the lives of those inspired by the Mystic River. Although the experiences of staff and students at Mystic Seaport Museum remain unique to each person, the collective voice not only echoes the awe of Howland in 1994, but also raises questions as to how we can give back to the River as we move into the future. When considering our current relationship with the Mystic River, it is important to remember its long history. As Rebecca Shea, Group Sales and Corporate Events Manager, puts it, “I like to reflect on how grateful I am to be in this beautiful place. But also, I reflect upon the footsteps I’m walking in.” Many Museum staff members explain how the local history of the River, including its Indigenous history, colonial history, shipbuilding history, and history of trades, plays a crucial role in our work today. Krystal Rose, Curator of Collections, reminds us, “This is the ancestral land of Indigenous people. A lot has happened on the land and on the River that needs to be acknowledged and considered. I'm so excited that this is now becoming part of our narrative at the Museum, because there is a whole history that happened before many of us were here.” Many staff members describe the veins of commerce and industry that have existed throughout American history. Elizabeth Kristian, Supervisor of Interpretation, describes how the trade work of the Interpretation department is grounded as much as possible in local history, which includes the Indigenous experience in America within the maritime trades. Arlene Marcionette, Director of Public Programs, shares that
THE MYSTIC RIVER IS A MUSE FOR MANY working on the River has made her “more aware of all the ways the River has shaped people's lives over the centuries.” Mystic Seaport Museum is a unique maritime museum because its location allows staff and visitors to immerse themselves in history through direct access to the River today. Associate Director for School and Family Programs, Barbara Jarnagin, highlights this unique accessibility, sharing that visitors are sometimes surprised that “we don’t have glass barriers or barbed wire barriers.” She reassures them that “it’s okay to be close to water. The water isn’t going to hurt you.” With Mystic River’s safe harbors, slow traffic, and shallow banks, the River is truly a great introduction for people interested in learning about the maritime world. Maritime learning involves trips to our various trade shops and our working shipyard or stepping onto a historic vessel like the Charles W. Morgan where fascinating demonstrations unfold. Only here will visitors experience live history on the only remaining nineteenthcentury American whaleship. Director of Interpretation, Maria Petrillo, emphasizes the importance of these personal experiences with history, because “the more you get to actually do hands-on [learning] . . . the more connected you’ll feel to it.” Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Museum’s Boathouse rentals have been free for visitors, another step towards accessibility of the hands-on learning for which Petrillo advocates. The Boathouse hosts a collection of small watercraft: sailboats, row boats, and pedal boats. Boathouse staff cater to different levels of experience, whether that be a long-time sailor or a beginning rower. As someone who had never been on the water before, highschooler Eddy L. had an initial hesitation towards being on the River. Eddy did not know what to expect when he joined the Museum’s Maritime Adventure Program (MAP). However, with guidance, he not only learned how to sail
but also received his boating license in the summer of 2022. Eddy reflects on the impact of the Mystic River in terms of community, “This program has put me on a better path than I was on because everybody here is all about positivity and hard work. I just matched the energy.” Youth sailing counselors build their confidence on the water first as students, then as mentors who want to cultivate the same lifechanging experiences for their peers. Deaglan L. explains his personal goal as a counselor-in-training, which is “letting [other students] experience what I got to experience as a camper” and in turn, “have them get their best experience.” In speaking with staff and students at the Museum, one thing is clear: we would not be who we are without the River. Sarah Armour, captain of Brilliant, has noticed that “when people have a relationship with their waterway, there’s a sense of place and a sense of ownership that comes with it.” That sense of place is reflected by every person at the Museum. Our shared experiences with the Mystic River bring us together and build our community. We want the Mystic River to remain the “unique jewel” that Waldo Howland described in 1994. It is up to us to care for the River, so that future generations can continue to experience its natural beauty and alluring enchantment.
LEFT: Elizabeth Rozmanith, summer intern from Clark University RIGHT: Georgina Lau, summer intern from
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A STORY OF COMMUNITY ON THE MYSTIC RIVER Longtime Museum Members Robert and Eleanor Krusewski, originally from Waterbury, Connecticut, discovered what they describe as the “magic of Mystic” when visiting family in New London in the 1970s. Bob, a former financial advisor, and Ellie, a former kindergarten teacher, purchased a dilapidated house on the banks of the Mystic River in 1976 and spent years renovating it into the beautiful home they share today. But it was the Mystic River upon which they built their community of friends. The Krusewskis have enjoyed time on the water as much as watching the other boaters go by. Bob tells stories of he and Ellie hopping onto their boat and traveling downriver to various restaurants for dinner or across the river to parties and visits with friends. For a time, Bob and a neighbor were both on the Board of the Ram Island Yacht Club. They attended Board meetings via boat. Bob tells of once owning a launch that accommodated a good number of people, and they gathered a group to attend the Museum’s annual Carol Sing in December—by boat—and attended other years onboard the sailing schooner Argia. One winter the river nearly froze over, with the exception of the channel, and Bob, Ellie, and others placed benches on the ice for spectators to sit while watching ice skaters. Bob and Ellie recall Tuesday night races on the River and friendly sailing competitions with neighbors using boats on loan from the Museum. The social life that they have enjoyed over the last five decades is special, uniquely set upon the Mystic River. The Krusewskis are also former volunteers in the Museum’s PILOTS program and were honored to have worked on the building of the Amistad. They were delighted to have witnessed the launch of the Amistad as well as the Charles W. Morgan, both significant moments for the Museum and the community that created excitement and prompted lawn parties bringing friends together along the River’s banks. As Bob and Ellie reminisce, they are reminded of the magic that caught their attention years earlier: the quaint downtown, the wonderful restaurants, the special nature of being able to travel by foot or boat to nearly everywhere they need to go locally, and the sight of the many boats on the River daily. The Krusewskis feel fortunate to have had the opportunity and ability to create a life in Mystic. When asked to sum up what the Mystic River has added to their lives, in addition to the soothing picturesque landscape, they replied with one word, “joy.” Sherri Ramella, Editorial Director and Associate Director of Advancement
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A DRAWBRIDGE TENDER'S VIEW Prior to his retirement in 2022, Rod Coleman was a tender of the Mystic River Bascule Bridge. In his 33-year career, Rod enjoyed access to that special vantage-point of the daily activity on the Mystic River, exemplified by the perpetual traffic of boats plodding up the river, often on their way to Mystic Seaport Museum. The bridge that Rod would eventually tend first caught his attention as a boy when traveling through Mystic with his parents. Rod recalls, “We came to a stop going over to the Stonington side. I grabbed both headrests and I asked, ‘Mom, what is THAT?’ She said ‘It’s a drawbridge.’ My feet didn’t even hit the floor then but I said ‘I want that job one day!’” The story of Rod’s ascent to the “command center” is long and winding, but his childhood wish came true in 1989.
weather can safely make it upriver, because when the tenders leave, the bridge is left down. Communication between the bridge tenders and the Museum is frequent and friendly. Whether opening the bridge for Sabino chuffing up and down the river daily or for Museum visitors arriving by boat, Rod says with pride, “The bridge tenders have always considered themselves the gatekeepers to the Seaport.” Rod speculates what would happen if the Museum stopped operating: “[Mystic] would dry up, and it would dry up the drawbridge, too. Mystic [bridge] opens because people go to the Museum. They [the Museum and the drawbridge] depend on each other.” Ryan Ramella, Volunteer Writer
In his career, Rod witnessed historic and thrilling moments. He describes his view from the bridge as Amistad was launched in 2000: “It was packed downtown. The Mystic fire boat led the way through with the water cannons going off. People were all the way from the condo docks to the park. It was an honor to work that day.” He likens the energy of the Charles W. Morgan and Mayflower II launches to the “electric” air of the Amistad launch. On occasion, boats of celebrities such as Steven Spielberg, Phil Donahue, and Walter Cronkite would come through, often sparking a moment of jovial interaction as Rod peered through the open window to see who was on board. Once, his job was impacted not by a celebrity on a boat, but a former President traveling by car. The secret service instructed Rod to close the bridge to prevent President Jimmy Carter getting caught in stopped traffic. As bridge tender, Rod experienced the ebbs and flows of life on the river. He emphasizes the importance of the park renovation in downtown Mystic to create a tourist-friendly atmosphere and offering riverfront access to all. He mentions an oil spill in Kingston, Rhode Island, in 1996 that temporarily halted fishing boats. The economic downturn in the early 2000s slowed recreational boating. Dredging of the river channel allowed for larger boats to come in. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and gas price spikes slowed boating once again. Fishermen seeking safety during extreme weather used to “raft up” along the river’s edge and chain to the bridge. He also speaks of the impact of river conditions on the ability of boaters to maneuver through the bridge, occasionally causing unscheduled bridge openings for the safety of boats and boaters. In an emergency situation, tenders are the last to leave, ensuring that boaters returning in bad
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THE THREADS THAT BIND: SPINELESS, OCEANUS, AND FOULING SPECIES IN NEW ENGLAND Some of the very same animals in the current exhibitions, Spineless: A Glass Menagerie of Blaschka Marine Invertebrates and Alexis Rockman: Oceanus, live in the Mystic River and nearby waters today. One of the shining examples is the light bulb sea squirt, Clavelina lepadiformis, brilliantly depicted in the Rockman watercolor, Vectors and Pathways, and also seen in Spineless as a glass model made in the 1870s by glassmakers Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka. This well-known European species arrived on our coast about 15 years ago, carried here on ships’ bottoms, and today coats the seawalls of parts of Stonington Harbor in the summer. In the Museum’s waters are the European vase sea squirt, Ciona intestinalis, a spectacular transparent creature that occurs by the 100s and sometimes 1000s on our docks and piers alongside Botryllus schlosseri, the star tunicate—both represented in Blaschka glass models. Another Blaschka model that can be seen in real life off our docks is the moon jelly, Aurelia aurita, common in the spring through fall. With all of these dazzling sea creatures featured in different media throughout our exhibition spaces, the Interpretation department saw an opportunity for new programming: a waterfront exploration program where Museum visitors could see some of the fascinating species up close living in the estuary! Special plates known as fouling panels were deployed in the Mystic River early in 2023 and subsequently colonized by both introduced and native fouling organisms. When Interpretation staff hauled up the “day’s catch,” they then worked with visitors to examine and identify the animals and plants growing on the panel, using a photographic guide of common species in the river. Interpretation staff facilitated the activity and led a discussion with visitors about how different plants and animals have been transported across the globe. During each program, interpreters kept a log of the species found and shared the data with colleagues in the Williams-Mystic program. Dr. James T. Carlton, Director Emeritus, The Coastal and Ocean Studies Program of Williams College and Mystic Seaport Museum Krystal Rose, Curator of Collections Maria Petrillo, Director of Interpretation
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Light bulb sea squirt (Clavelina lepadiformis).
Images from Yellowstone Lake. ROV Yogi dives with a 360 camera onboard. Provided by the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration.
LEADING THE WAY IN BLUE TECHNOLOGY In the Magazine’s Spring/Summer 2023 article Blue Technology and the Blue Economy, we introduced a new initiative at Mystic Seaport Museum to connect the past, present, and future of our maritime legacy through blue technology and blue economy. In the concurrent exhibition to Alexis Rockman: Oceanus, located in the Pilalas Lobby, examples of regional, national, and international entrepreneurs are featured, with innovations that address aquaculture, invasive species remediation, data robotic technology, an algae-based plastic replacement fabric, and tools to increase efficiencies in fishing strategies from oyster farming to codfish. We have been hard at work developing concepts and partnerships to expand our storytelling and leadership in this arena. On that front, the Museum is thrilled to announce our first collaboration with Rhode Island-based Blue Venture Forum, “a program that connects existing blue technology companies, investors, and resource providers with emerging blue technology firms.” On September 28, we hosted The Future of Blue Technology, which included a panel discussion about the current state of blue technology, flash talks from entrepreneurs in this arena, and product demonstrations on and in the river. The event was held in the Alexis Rockman: Oceanus exhibition, surrounded by Rockman’s dynamic and beautiful paintings which address the regional and global impacts of maritime activities on ocean health. This Blue Venture Forum event provided the opportunity to hear from many industries that are looking into sustainable maritime
economic development, exploration, and security through innovation, many of which directly address issues raised in the painting series. The presenters are largely regionally based, and some are included in the accompanying lobby exhibit on blue technologies. In addition to this event, on November 16 hear from the President/ Founder/CEO of Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration, David Lovalvo, about their use of ROV technology. This winter, look for a series of Blue Technology and Economy panels on aquaculture, clothing, and robotics for exciting conversations with people working on sustainable local resource management, technologies, exploration, and research in the blue economy. There is much more to come! The future of a sustainable maritime economy is blue technology, and New England (and Connecticut!) is a fast-growing national leader in this sector. Christina Connett Brophy, PhD, Senior Vice President of Curatorial Affairs
FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT: www.blueventureforum.org
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Members of Mystic Seaport Museum enjoy a variety of unique Member benefits, behind-thescenes events, both live and virtual, and special discounts throughout the year. News and updates are shared weekly in the Member newsletter via email and in the Mystic Seaport Museum Membership Facebook Group. Members are invited to join this group today and be among the first to learn about everything Membership! The fun doesn’t stop on Labor Day weekend! There’s lots in store for Members in the fall and winter seasons, too. A generous sponsorship from our friends at AARP has enabled us to invite Members to two unique FREE virtual lifelong learning events. On November 1 at 7:00 pm join Brian Koehler, Supervisor of the Museum’s Treworgy Planetarium, for a unique examination of the star lore of the Ojibwe, an Anishinaabe people in what is currently southern Canada and the northern midwestern United States. Then on November 15 at 1:00 pm, join Christopher Gasiorek, Senior Vice President of Operations and Watercraft, for “News from the Shipyard,” an engaging overview of current shipyard projects and the Museum’s preservation mission. Visit https://local. aarp.org/mystic-ct/ to learn more and register. Beat the winter blues with Adventure Series, Winter Membership Mondays, and new reciprocal admission programs! Join us on January 18, February 15, March 21, and April 18 at 2:00 and 6:30 pm for the Adventure Series annual lecture series. On January 8 and February 5 at 2:00 pm, learn about new Museum initiatives and upcoming programming via virtual presentations with Museum leadership. Then, throughout the winter, Mystic Seaport Museum Members will benefit from pop-up reciprocal partnerships with other organizations. Watch your Membership email for details on these and more Membership experiences!
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MEMBER PATIO UPGRADES Member patio renderings by Kent + Frost Landscape Architecture.
Mystic Seaport Museum was founded 94 years ago as a membership association dedicated to promoting an understanding of our maritime heritage and its fundamental significance to our country. Over the years this membership association has grown and thrived and is now instrumental in supporting and maintaining one of the finest museums in the world. By 1930, one year after the three founders created the Marine Historical Association, they had recruited 27 active Members. The following year the membership had grown to 71 and so it went year after year until in the early 1960s there were some 8,000 Members of the Association. In 1963 the Trustees determined it would be useful and fitting to develop a membership building to host and support this growing group of maritime enthusiasts. Two years later, in 1965, the Membership building was opened and dedicated in honor of Mildred C. Mallory. In concert with the building was the development of the Member patio and the Margaret Pynchon Mallory Garden, creating a space that has been enjoyed by Members and their families ever since. After nearly 60 years and as we approach our Centennial Anniversary, it is time to consider the restoration, renovations, and improvements to the Member patio, garden, and Membership building. Plans have been developed and we are working to secure the funds necessary to complete the project. The current expense estimate is $500,000. We invite your participation and investment in enhancing these amenities for today and for the future. Today our membership rolls remain dynamic and growing. Our Members continue to play a vital role in the growth and development of Mystic Seaport Museum. We are pleased to gather each spring for the Annual Meeting during which we celebrate Member Milestones. It is astounding to realize that we routinely celebrate Members who have been involved with Mystic Seaport Museum since the Membership building was dedicated in 1965. It is true that membership can be a lifelong voyage. Chris Freeman, Vice President of Advancement
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50 YEARS OF FRIENDSHIP AND HARD WORK Originally envisioned by Anna Glenn and Alexander Vietor as an advisory or “friends” group much like the Pintard Fellows at the New York Historical Society, the Mystic Seaport PILOTS group was formed in 1973, founded on the virtues of Passion, Integrity, Loyalty, Optimism, Tenacity, and Service. Their first meetings at Mystic Seaport Museum focused on in-depth tours of the facilities and conversations with the senior management and front-line staff. The goal was to engage individual interest and cultivate philanthropic support. However, the PILOTS had ideas of their own and after the first few sessions, it became evident that there was work to be accomplished at the Museum far beyond what the staff could easily manage. And so, the PILOTS became an ad-hoc volunteer work gang, laboring on projects throughout the Museum two weekends each year, one in the spring and one in the fall. As extraordinary supporters and advocates for the mission of Mystic Seaport Museum, PILOTS participate in an assortment of on-grounds projects ranging from thought-provoking research to challenging active work. Many of the Museum’s seasonal and often unglamorous chores are completed by this wonderful group of dedicated workers. Working shoulder to shoulder with the professional staff to accomplish a variety of work projects—in the library and archives, on the streets and grounds, inside the historic buildings and ships— PILOTS receive special insight and behind-the-scenes views of Mystic
Seaport Museum for a spring and/or fall weekend each year. Since its inception, the program has grown to more than 275 PILOTS who contribute more than 1,300 hours of service annually. The work assignments are completed on Saturday while Sunday is reserved for behind-the-scenes tours led by Museum staff to help give the PILOTS a deeper understanding about the depth and breadth of Mystic Seaport Museum. At the end of the long hard day of work on Saturday, the PILOTS and staff are rewarded with cocktails and dinner and enjoy lively conversation. Thus, the PILOTS program has also become a social enterprise in addition to a dedicated volunteer corps. Music played an important role in the early decades and gave birth to the PILOTS’ very own musical group, The Rock of Ages. Formed by Bill and Eileen Ames, the original line-up premiering in the fall of 1984 starred: Bill Ames (clarinet), Eileen Ames (tambourine), Mel Haines (banjo), Russ Nickerson (trumpet), Bob LaFrance (guitar), Mike Pilo (drums), Bill Gibbs (trombone), Don Farrington (banjo), and Kay Hill (piano). Although the band members have changed, The Rock of Ages continues to perform at every PILOTS Weekend. Over the years the PILOTS have developed deep personal friendships among the corps and staff to such a degree that their bi-annual work weekends now feel like a homecoming or family reunion. Whether swinging a hammer or a paint brush, wielding a rake or a broom,
sorting through lumber or old photographs, launching or hauling a boat, or combing through the archives, the PILOTS’ work is meaningful to the success of the Museum. We are honored that this PILOTS program is still going strong after 50 years. The program provides an opportunity for more distant Members to come pitch in as volunteers while meeting like-minded enthusiasts for Mystic Seaport Museum. Many of the PILOTS travel great distances to come to work each spring and fall. Others live locally but busy lives prevent a more regular volunteer schedule. The PILOTS program is not now what it once was. It will not be in the future what it is now. Change is healthy and inevitable if the organization is to remain vital and of interest to new generations. Two things however have remained constant over the past five decades. The first is the notion that once you are a PILOT, a PILOT you shall always be. Second, so long as there are PILOTS willing to work on behalf of Mystic Seaport Museum, the Museum will welcome their support. All areas of the Museum greatly appreciate the help provided by the PILOTS. If you would like to learn more about the PILOTS program please contact the Advancement Office. We would welcome your participation and engagement. Chris Freeman, Vice President of Advancement
PILOTS / 35
JOIN THE MUSEUM COMMUNITY.
Robert W. Armstrong is Alexander R. Brash’s great-great-grandfather. The first half of A Whaler at Twilight: A True Account of Whaling and Redemption in the South Pacific is Armstrong’s manuscript autobiography written late in life but based on the journals he kept during his 9 1/2 years working as a whaleman and logger in the South Pacific beginning in 1849. The second half details Brash’s investigations into his great-great-grandfather’s story.
Become a Member: 860.572.5339
Make a Gif t to the Annual Fund: 860.572.0711 ext. 5144 Include the Museum in your Planned Giving and Will: 860.572.0711 ext. 5146 Attend the America and the Sea Award Gala: 860.572.0711 ext. 5052 Join our Volunteer Team: 860.572.5378 Alexander R. Brash and Robert W. Armstrong. A Whaler at Twilight: A True Account of Whaling and Redemption in the South Pacific. Lanham, MD: Lyons Press, 2023. xiii, 306.
WE LOOK FORWARD TO WELCOMING
The opening chapter outlines the history of the manuscript, Brash’s early aversion to reading it, and then, once he read it, his total absorption with it. That absorption is understandable. Armstrong’s manuscript is vigorous and engrossing. Armstrong himself perceived the manuscript as an account of God’s redemption of a man drawn to drink, but the modern reader will find his visceral account of the hardships of life on a whaleship—blisters, seasickness, wet bunks, and all—as well as his descriptions of South American ports, South Pacific islands, and logging in New Zealand more engaging.
As I was reading Armstrong’s manuscript, I kept thinking, “Oh, I wish I knew more about that aspect.” Brash must have agreed, for in the second half, he investigates the islands, Indigenous people, industries, and mutinies alluded to by Armstrong. Brash’s knowledge of whaling is incomplete, and he includes some odd inaccuracies, but despite this small imperfection, the second half of the book is rewarding. Brash is an ornithologist, and his love of birds, especially pelagic birds, shines through. And he even includes an incident involving the Charles W. Morgan, which he found in Nelson Cole Haley’s Whale Hunt, the narrative of Haley’s 1849-1853 voyage as harpooneer on the Morgan. —Mary K. Bercaw Edwards, University of Connecticut
The inspirational TRUE story of how twentytwo-year-old Henny Sinding courageously helped smuggle hundreds of Jewish families in occupied Denmark to safety in Sweden during the Holocaust. It wouldn’t be easy, but they had to try. It was their only chance to survive. In 1943, years after the Nazi occupation of Denmark, word spread of the Gestapo’s insidious plan to round up the Jewish population and deport them to concentration camps. Angry at this attack on their friends and fellow Danes, many in Denmark organized and fought back, including the young woman Henny Sinding. She and the crew of Gerda lll, a lighthouse supply boat, risked everything to smuggle their Jewish compatriots across the Øresund strait to safety in Sweden. But what happened when their operation’s cover was blown and it was Henny’s turn to escape? Harboring Hope is an incredible true story inverse about courage, community, humanity, and hope. The book includes extensive back matter with primary sources, additional information, further reading, and photographs.
Susan Hood. Harboring Hope: The True Story of How Henny Sinding Helped Denmark’s Jews Escape the Nazis. HarperCollins, 2023.
The book is available for purchase in the Museum Store. By an act of the Danish Parliament, Gerda III was donated to the Museum of Jewish Heritage in 1989. Mystic Seaport Museum is proud to help care for and exhibit the boat.
36 / Books
UPCOMING EVENTS NOVEMBER
Wednesday, November 1
AARP Virtual Talk "Star Lore of the Ojibwe" *
Wednesday, November 15
AARP Virtual Talk "News from the Shipyard" *
Thursday, November 16
Engineering for Discovery: A Look at ROV Technology, David Lovalvo
Saturday, November 18
Native American Heritage Indigenous Craft Fair
Thursday, November 24–Sunday, December 3 Member Double Discount Days *
December 8, 9, 15, 16, 21, 22, and 23 Lantern Light Village
Sunday, December 17 Community Carol Sing
Friday, December 29–Sunday, December 31 Holiday Magic
Sunday, December 31
New Year's Eve Event for Families * Members only
FOR A FULL SCHEDULE OF EVENTS VISIT www.mysticseaport.org/events
Upcoming Events / 37
HOLIDAY GIFT GIVING 2024 Art of the Boat Wall Calendar Featuring beautiful, iconic images from the Rosenfeld Collection at Mystic Seaport Museum, we offer our 2024 Art of the Boat wall calendar. Size 13 3/4”w x 10 1/4”h, opens to 13 3/4”w x 20 1/2”h $15.99
DON’T MISS IT! MEMBERS’ HOLIDAY DOUBLE DISCOUNT SHOPPING DAYS AT OUR GIFT STORE AND ONLINE! MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Friday, November 24, through Sunday, December 3, 2023
Crewneck Sweatshirt Our classic Henry B. du Pont Preservation Shipyard sweatshirt, 50% poly and 50% cotton. $48
Enjoy 20% off almost everything in the store and online.*
To shop online, visit shop.mysticseaport.org Use code: MYSTICMEMBER *excluding sale and promotional items.
Shipyard Mug Use hot or cold beverages in this cllassic Henry B. du Pont Preservation Shipyard Mug, 12 oz. $18.00
38 / Holiday Gift Giving
On the Water: A Century of Iconic Maritime Photogrpahy The Rosenfeld Collection
Author Nick Voulgaris III, Foreword by Robert Iger, Contributions by Dennis Conner and Ted Turner Each timeless image comes to life in this celebration of the traditions of going to sea. $65.00
Charles W. Morgan Baseball cap Available in navy twill. $35.00
With Yacht Log, you can preserve your sailing memories. Double pages provide room to record a variety of data—time, position, course, current, wind, weather, maintenance notes, crew on board, navigator and skipper, engine or sail combination while under way, and more—for sixty-five passages or short cruises, for both sail and power boats. Pages: 144 • Trim: 11 1/2"w x 8 3/4"h Hardcover $29.95
In the days before electricity, light below a vessel’s deck was limited to candles, oil and kerosene lamps. A clever solution for the light problem was the deck prism. Laid flush into the deck, the prism point drew light down below decks. This prism is an exact reproduction of the original deck prisms on the world’s last surviving wooden whaleship, the Museum's Charles W. Morgan. Large (only available in green, pictured in middle): $40.00, approximate dimensions, 4 1/2”h x 4 1/2”w Small (currently available in cobolt, green, and turquoise): $32.00, approximate dimensions, 3 1/4”h x 3”w
GIVE THE GIFT OF
MYSTIC SEAPORT MUSEUM MEMBERSHIP The gift of Membership is always a perfect fit! Give friends and family a year of FREE admission, store and café discounts, special open evenings, and behind-the-scenes access of all kinds. If you have any questions, email email@example.com.
To purchase, call 860.572.5339 or visit www.mysticseaport.org/gift. Holiday Gift Giving / 39
75 Greenmanville Avenue PO Box 6000 Mystic, CT 06355-0990
75 Greenmanville Avenue PO Box 6000 Mystic, CT 06355-0990