The International Small Craft Center opened on May 17, 2003, at The Mariners’ Museum. The 17,500 square foot facility houses a collection that features nearly 150 boats from 42 countries, and is one of the few truly internationally focused collections in the world.
The Center is oriented directly to a wide variety of audiences, combining elements of both exhibition and of open storage. Boats from diverse cultures and waterways are arranged among eleven thematic areas which visitors access by way of an elevated path. Broad categories such as Maritime Environment, Culture, Shape, and Materials help orient visitors to the great varieties of watercraft in the world. The categories of Conveyance and Sustenance highlight many different examples used either as a means of transportation, or for harvesting the riches of the seas.
Another section highlights experimental and hybrid boats, used solely for testing particular theories or that were built to serve one purpose and evolves to serve another. Two other sections feature boats used in Competition. A final section looks at the craft used for Surfing. A number of smaller boats from the collection are available for viewing on special shelves along the back walls. The Center comprises more than just boats, however. Visitors can go beyond the boats and discover more about the individuals who used them.
The Center also houses the E. Peter and Caddy R. Meekins Research and Reading Rooms offering access to information and archival form the Museum’s Library such as the Chris-Craft and the Arthur Piver Collections. There is also an area for conservation where staff and volunteers work on boats in full view of the public. The Center also features a 900-square foot space for changing exhibitions and boat related programs.