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Using Art Reproductions to Create a Home


Do you love bold home decor? How about oversized works of art because they can draw focus in your room? Maybe you found they are an excellent way to showcase your personality. Perhaps you have always wanted to have a gallery wall along your hallway or travel up the walls of your staircase. Then you know that the choice of artwork placed there should be specific and well-planned.

The Dilemma

Making a home sometimes starts in college. I remember my first week on campus; vendors were selling 20” x 30” movie and music posters to help students inject some needed personality into their cookie-cutter dorm rooms. For others, it may happen when you decorate your first apartment. You may have purchased your first “art” from Ikea because they sold affordable large-scale art reproductions and inexpensive frames. However, your friends in the same financial situation purchased their framed art from there, too. So now your living rooms match because there were not enough unique designs available at the Big Blue box store for everyone.

The Availability of Art Reproductions

Around twenty years ago, the national chain store Target had the brilliant idea to reproduce the art of vintage advertising posters and packaging labels, using images that were in the public domain. These art reproductions became extremely popular, but in time, everyone had that same Theophile Steinlen Le Chat Noir poster in their home. Again, this was not the best way to create a personal and unique home.

Instead of choosing from a collection created to appeal to a mass market, would you not prefer to choose from a self-selected group of work that personally appeals to you?

The answer is yes, right? Therefore, variety and access are needed to acquire artwork that speaks to both your taste and wallet. An excellent way to achieve that is to look at what already interests you and discover what might be available. Nowadays, museums, such as The Mariners’ Museum, have realized the value of their collections as not only connecting their patrons with the history of their museum’s contents but also as a means for books, objects, and home decor that is both beautiful and reflects the known interests of their patrons.

What The Mariners’ Museum Can Offer

The Mariners’ Museum, as an institution, has been acquiring and displaying items relating to the water since 1933. It houses upwards of 32,000 objects, around 78,000 books, over 600,000 photographic images, and several million archival materials. On average, the Museum can display only 2% of its entire holdings. Within that remaining 98%, you would be surprised by what is available. Interestingly enough, although the Newport News, VA located museum is in an area rife with local maritime history, the scope of the Museum has always been global. Therefore, there is so much variety from which to choose.

Just in terms of decorating your home with framed art reproductions, there are numerous options to choose from among oil paintings, engravings, watercolors, photography, and wartime propaganda and travel posters.

For lovers of the water, try dramatic seascapes painted by Frederick Judd Waugh, bold use of color by Thomas C. Skinner, or a tranquil boat scene by Louis Feuchter.

For those loving the thrill and action of pleasure boating, try the powerful action photographs of Edwin Levick or the documentary-like art photos of John Frye and Aubrey A. Bodine.

If you are dreaming of extensive travel without possessing the means to make it happen? Why not indulge that desire in travel posters extolling exotic locations and images of vintage ocean liners?

In a series of later posts, I will go into more depth and showcase a variety of examples available within each of these categories.

How The Mariners’ Museum Can Help

If you are interested, The Mariners’ Museum can provide you with high-quality art reproductions of items from our collections* for a fee. So, how to purchase museum art prints for your own home? I suggest that you first look through our online catalog here. Not everything is viewable at this time, but new images are uploaded daily.

Do you have an idea of what you want but are not able to find it in the catalog? Send us an email at [email protected], and we can work with you to locate an item that works.

Once you make your selections, please submit a Rights and Reproduction Request Form.

The form is the most efficient and preferred way to order; however, you may send us an email if needed. Please include the identifying number for each selection (Archive Number, Accession Number, or Call Number) on the form. You can find these in the online catalog entry for the item. Your selections will print from high-quality digital scans to resin-coated papers for prints and photographs and archival for plans and maps. When your order is approved, we will issue a digital invoice from which you can make your payment online.

Our price list is available here. Art print sizes range from 8″ x 10″ to 24″ x 36″. However, due to the historical nature of our items, some may not conform to conventional frame sizes. In that case, we charge $7 per square foot for custom sizes.

If you are interested and want to see even more of what The Mariners’ Museum has to offer, please check back on this blog for upcoming posts highlighting each of the separate options that might be perfect for your home.

* Collection items that are available for this service must be in the public domain and not subject to copyright restrictions. For questions related to this, please refer to our Rights and Reproductions section.

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