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A Byte of History

Hello readers, and welcome back to the Library blog. Julie Zauzmer, a staff writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, posted an interesting article on today (article HERE). The SS United States Conservancy has created a virtual copy of the SS United States in order to raise money for the conservation of the real ship. Donors can purchase virtual pieces of the vessel for the price of $1 per square inch, and use that space to display things like photographs and messages. Creating a virtual ship like this is an interesting step not just the SS United States, but for museums in general: when you need to quickly raise funds or awareness for a project, what better way than by using the internet? The Conservancy has given an electronic version of the ship to the people, and let them run with it.

People who remember traveling on the great ship have bought bits of the places that were special to them, like the Promenade Deck pictured above. From The Mariners’ Museum Collection.

Financially, the project is off to an admirable start. The Conservancy needs $25 million to renovate the ship and convert its interior into a museum, and has raised $6 million already. The catch is that their current allotment of money will only allow them to hold on to the ship until November of this year. After that, the SS United States will be sold for scrap metal. A poor end for the flagship of the American merchant fleet and the world’s fastest transatlantic passenger ship.

Years of deterioration show their effect. From The Mariners’ Museum Collection.

I think the SS United States needs help. Selling space a dollar at a time may not seem like much, but I get the feeling that the Conservancy is hoping that engaging the public with a virtual ship will garner them enough publicity to raise the bulk of the funds they need. Perhaps enough publicity for a few large-scale donors, even. After all, they say that big things have small beginnings: give the virtual ship a look at and see if you feel like being part of something grand.

Second article HERE.

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