More Than Words: Explaining the mission of The Mariners’ Museum and Park

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Kevin Bacon; 1984, Footloose

You learned the mission statement. Maybe you even memorized the words, but if someone asked you “why?”, “how?” could you explain the point? School songs, organizations’ codes, institutional missions – all too often these important and carefully crafted statements are recited without much attention to what the deeper meaning is.

Recently, The Mariners’ Museum and Park underwent a major re-invention of our purpose. We do not want to stand by, stagnantly aging. Instead we aim to become a world leader through our collections and archives, their care and management, and our message to visitors.   Read more

USS Consolation Re-Union

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Our visitors of the week were members of a tour group from the USS Consolation, a hospital ship that was positioned in the Pacific during the Korean War in 1951. This was the first hospital ship to have a heliport to receive wounded soldiers by helicopter. This group of visitors totaled 59, and I had a group of about 20. They were most impressed with The Mariners’ Museum and appreciative of the tour. This was very consoling to me, since this WAS a group from the USS CONSOLATION!

"Pharmaceutical rep visits his roots"

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I know there are many who missed my weekly blog, (LOL) but I have been busy connecting with our nine grandchildren before they return to school. (3 in college)

I had a cordial conversation with a visitor from Missouri and Civil War buff.  He had retired as a pharmaceutical rep and had attended William and Mary (yeah!).  He said that his family can be traced back to 1774 in New Kent County.  I said “‘don’t you think you should move back to your roots, because they must have shown you everything worth seeing in the “show me state” of Missouri by now?”  This was  a friendly exchange and he couldn’t wait to get into The Monitor Center.

"History or Baseball?"

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On Friday I had the pleasure of giving a tour of the museum to Jordan and Bryce, “baseball stars of the future”, and their mother, Sydney from Atlanta.  They seemed to really enjoy the experience, as did I.  I think, like many school children of today, American history is somewhat not a priority.  I stressed the importance of this subject, and encouraged them to go to the Atlanta History Museum for a more extensive lesson, since they live in the heart of the history of the Civil War!  I believe that their viewing of “The Battle of Hampton Roads” really got their attention.  Sidney grew up in Newport News and was visiting her mother here.  I told Sidney that if today’s experience didn’t plant seeds of history in the minds of her sons, I didn’t know what would.

"only 90 minutes, incredible!"

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This entry is to focus on the challenges of we docents at TMM face in meeting time restraints of visitors.  I recently greeted a nice couple with four children, ages 8-15, from outside of Westchester, N.Y.  I  asked them what their time allowance was, and they said ” an hour and a half!”  (a challenge persists).  I offered them a 1 hour tour, or so, of the museum galleries, excluding The Monitor Center and The Chesapeake Bay Gallery.  They willingly accepted and were most interested  throughout the tour. It seems that their 14 year-old son had a basketball tournament nearby. They were most interested during the tour. While in the Great Hall of Steam, I noticed that the 10-year-old son was lingering in front of one of the working  model steam engines.  I said “it seems we have future engineer among us.”  The mother replied, “that is what he wants to be”. At the completion of the gallery tour, we entered the museum back by The Monitor Center and I was able to convince them that the remaining part of their time would be best used by watching the Battle of Hampton Roads, which was showing  just at the time we arrived at the entrance to the Battle Theater!

As I was escorting  them out,  the entire family was most gracious and said how impressed they were with the museum.  The father said it was “incredible” what we had achieved  in “only 90 minutes”.  They will not long forget their “whirlwind” visit to The Mariners’ Museum. (nor will I)