Knot your usual grounding…

Posted on
USS Missouri grounded. MS0228-538A

Many of you probably know the story of one of the most infamous groundings to occur in Hampton Roads—that of the battleship USS Missouri—whose captain merrily drove it onto Thimble Shoals on January 17th, 1950 thanks to sheer arrogance fueled by terrible interdepartmental US Navy communication (read: it wasn’t just bad communication–there wasn’t ANY communication!).

The story has been told well in other places (My particular favorite is:, so I thought I would relate an interesting incident that occurred during the salvage operation that most people haven’t heard; a circumstance that led to Mariners’ having a really odd commemorative object related to the event in our collection.   Read more

An Ode to Silver, or, Silver: A Story of Love, Betrayal, and Triumph

Posted on
Hello, reader, it’s me!

What’s in a name? That which we call silver by any other name would be as difficult to photograph. Look, when someone brings you what is, effectively, a mirror and asks you to take a photograph of it a few things will likely run through your head. I won’t list them here because it involves some cursing. Don’t despair, however, all you need are some basic physics.

Yup, physics.   Read more

Beached whales and bad omens

Posted on
Dutch Whaling Scene, Bonaventura Peters, 1645. Accession Number QO 29

On Saturday we hosted a behind the scenes tour for Hudgins Construction (they very nicely re-graveled our boat building shed so we could easily move and store objects in there). There were a lot of families involved so I programmed two different tours in order to show the kids objects I hoped they might find entertaining (an image of seasick passengers, an early 17th century version of a blokart, a Viking sword, you get the idea).

One of the pieces I showed them was our 1645 Dutch whaling painting by Bonaventura Peters which I supplemented with an engraving of a beached whale on the Dutch coast.  As I researched the image, I discovered the reason for its creation was quite fascinating and revealed something I didn’t understand about the weird proliferation of 17th century images of whale strandings.   Read more