Mystic, CT - Mystic Seaport Museum announced it has received a $735,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to support the curation and development of three new collections installations and related programming. These projects will provide new perspectives on the art and ensure the continued preservation and refinement of the collections while also promoting public access.
Mystic Seaport Museum, the preeminent U.S. maritime museum, preserves the most significant public collections of marine art and artifacts in the western hemisphere. Through this initiative, the Museum will reimagine the artistic merit and educational potential of its permanent collections of decorative, folk, and self-taught art. These objects – not always considered as works of art and substantially hidden from public view – will be placed on display so they can be appreciated and studied afresh through the eyes of a new generation of scholars, artists, and curators.
The proposed installations and associated research and public program activities will encourage new scholarship around the themes of “The Sea as Muse,” a window into the world of immigrant craftsmanship and decorative arts; “The Sea as Studio” for folk art such as scrimshaw; and “The Sea as Commons,” through a curatorial investigation by contemporary artist Mary Mattingly.
“The Henry Luce Foundation is pleased to support Mystic Seaport Museum in this effort to expand the scholarship and knowledge around parts of its collections that will benefit from a fresh perspective,” said Teresa A. Carbone, program director for American Art at the Henry Luce Foundation. “We are excited to offer new audiences access to compelling art objects and introduce new voices into the Museum’s continuing research and interpretation of its collections.”
“This grant will enable Mystic Seaport Museum to bring rarely-seen collections to light and augment our curatorial capacity. Our staff has expertise largely in maritime history and the humanities. Introducing differing disciplinary perspectives will invite complementary yet distinct presentations and generate new narratives around selected objects. This plan reaffirms the Museum’s commitment to research, in recognition of our role as a nexus for public discourse on the American maritime experience,” said Steve White, president of Mystic Seaport Museum.
The grant will support a guest artist-curator and two scholar-curators, emerging career professionals who will gain from interaction with Museum staff while also introducing new voices to the Museum. In addition, two pre-professional inclusive internships will offer promising young students immersive professional experiences at a major museum; and three teacher-fellows will adapt the exhibit content into “resource sets” that will be archived and made available for Museum and classroom teachers beyond the exhibit installations. Teachers will use the content to encourage their students to dig deeper into the stories of the objects and their creators and make connections to their own lives.
The grant was inspired in part by a two day “think tank” hosted at the museum earlier this year, and sponsored by the Luce Foundation and the Chipstone Foundation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The event brought together museum staff with scholars from several disciplines to consider how the museum’s collections can be reinterpreted for future audiences.
The three installations are scheduled to open on the museum’s McGraw Gallery Quadrangle in 2019 and 2020.