Our latest exhibit is here! Well, here inside the museum and inside lots and lots of crates–over 100 of them. The crates and the largest moving truck any of us had ever seen rolled into town early this morning with all the parts for Savage Ancient Seas, Dinosaurs of the Deep. After a couple of hours work with furniture dollies, pallet jacks and forklifts, the crates are inside the gallery and the unpacking and installation has begun. The installation will only take a few days and then the lighting will be adjusted, the carpet vacuumed and the artifacts dusted. All the work leads up to the grand opening of “Savage” for museum members on Friday May 23rd and for the general public on Saturday May 24th. Here are some photos of the work so far. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more Collections fun here at The Mariners’!
What do you do when faced with a storage area filled with artifacts, one film crew, one docent, one curator and one TV personality? You stand around. A lot. And… babysit the artifacts so people and cameras don’t get to close ….listen to multiple versions of the same interview… watch many pieces of equipment get put together, taken apart, moved to another spot and then put back together again… listen to the inside jokes that only film crews can tell…and so on.
The museum is a popular destination for film crews from all over the world. We get requests to film artifacts, galleries and even the entire museum as well as provide staff for interviews on or off camera and to share what we know about the objects. Our photography department also gets numerous requests for images to serve as illustrations for narrated video segments.
One of the beauties in our collection is 174 years old, made from colorful fabric, is both decorative and useful, and was created so it could be given away in appreciation for a kind act. Today I offer our Baltimore Album Quilt for your viewing pleasure.
Quilts made with the distinctive Baltimore Album designs were first seen in and around Baltimore, Maryland in the 1840s. Unlike traditional quilts, which were created with fragments of worn out clothes or leftover pieces of fabric, album quilts were made with newly purchased fabric that was readily available in the prosperous port cities. The designs were also different. Instead of a single or repeating pattern, each section or “block” of the quilt contained an intricate appliqué using red and green as the predominant colors. Designs included floral sprays, animals, patriotic and fraternal motifs, people, cornucopias and ships, often with embroidered details. The quilts were large, eye-catching and they showcased the maker’s needlework skills.
From time to time we have to participate in what I have nicknamed “boat shoving” or moving boats around in our warehouse or International Small Craft Center. Whether it is for exhibition changes, in order to rig sails, so work can be done in one section of the building, or because we need to stage photographs, it is a challenging procedure. This time we were moving several boats in and out of the warehouse so they could be photographed for an upcoming exhibit at another institution.
In the storage areas, most of the larger artifacts are on wheels in order to make it easier to shift things around. Still, it is challenging and sometimes it can be very dangerous to move them. Just getting thousands of pounds of boat from a dead stop to forward movement takes multiple sets of hands and a lot of muscle power. Once they are in motion, we need to worry about keeping all the wheels lined up in the same direction, coordinating everyone involved in the move and not running into or over anyone or anything.
A recent acquisition offers a look at one way the USS Monitor entered into popular culture after the historic Battle at Hampton Roads in March 1862. Following the Civil War, images of the Monitor and variations on the name and style of ship were used for a variety of businesses and products, including telegraph equipment, windmills, cast iron stoves, patent medicines, silver mines, playing cards and produce, just to name a few.
The ironclad ships represented strength and innovation, two qualities many companies wished to highlight about their products.