This week we finished clearing all of the artifacts out of the Great Hall of Steam. The room has been cleaned and painted and is now awaiting the arrival of AC72 from Oracle Team USA, which will be here Monday. Meanwhile, the gallery has become an excellent place to host staff meetings. We’ve also begun organizing the gallery where the ship models now live, which should be open in two months or (hopefully) less. More updates to come!
This year we have some big changes coming to our galleries. In early December we closed Abandon Ship: Stories of Survival, and a week or so later closed the Great Hall. To make way for an awesome new exhibition about the America’s Cup that will be in the Great Hall, we had to move all of our beautiful ship models into the area where Abandon Ship was.
This area will then become our new Great Hall of Steam. There will also be a few new models coming out to be displayed, including some of our smaller ones. Our model makers will also be moving into a new space in this gallery. All of this change has been interesting to watch as the Great Hall has pretty much looked the same since the 1930’s.
The museum owns one of the largest figurehead collections in the world, with 92 total either on display or in storage. One of the figureheads purchased by the museum in 1933 and currently hanging in our Great Hall of Steam is named Apollo. At first glance this figurehead seems like nothing out of the ordinary since many ships used Greek gods as figureheads. However, this specific figurehead has a much more interesting past than one would guess.
Apollo probably came from an American ship that wrecked off the coast of Norway. There were stories about this figurehead that seemed doubtful, until 2008 when Mr. Hultgren of a small Swedish museum contacted us looking for information about where Apollo was. As confirmed by Mr. Hultgren, after its ship wrecked Apollo was put in a village in Sweden named Mollӧsund. Apollo stood on a rock beside a flagpole there until we bought it in the early 1930’s. It is said that the children of the village had May Day exercises around the figurehead. In the village Apollo was nicknamed “The Old Man of Ferdinand”, and there are stories that parents would tell bad children to “behave or The Old Man will come and get you!”
Christmas display in the main exhibition room, December 1958. At the top of the display, above the Guiding Star nameboard is a decorative piece from SS Deutschland and is very possibly from the main dining room. The figurehead to the left is a Native American, probably from a British ship of the early 19th century.
View from January of 1937 showing our shipmodel building shop with two of our builders, John Bader (left) and Tilford Crandol (right). It’s great to see all of the models and half models around the room and on the wall. These men had some amazing talent and built us several beautiful models, many of which are currently on display in our Great Hall of Steam.