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    Re: Mystic Seaport Museum
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2018 May 5, 14:48 -0700

    Charles McElhill, you wrote:
    "Your explanation of where Mystic Seaport is heading in the future is a bit disconcerting."

    Please bear in mind that I know nothing more than what I have heard from the unveiling ceremony video and in their press releases on this activity and in the evidence of the website and other materials that are making use of this new image. No one knows where Mystic Seaport Museum is heading except some cabal consisting of the President, Steve White, the vice presidents, especially Susan Funk, and some portion of the museum's Board of Trustees. They have a vision, and we can only guess where they're trying to go with this. It's worth mentioning that the five-year strategic plan focuses on the "Era of Exhibits" (a new high-paying position was created at the museum to manage this). This apparently envisions a period when travelling exhibits, some only loosely related to maritime history, will come to Mystic Seaport Museum on a rotating basis in order to provide continuing attractions that will bring visitors back on a regular basis. This is a good idea in general. It could unfortunately lead to a loss of focus and identity. It's also interesting that they have announced they are specifically moving the focus away from preserving vessels. This may mean that they have realized that the L.A. Duntion and the Joseph Conrad are beyond repair. But who knows... (not me).

    You added:
    "I’ve always enjoyed the traditional aspect, but I guess in the 21st century in order to maintain interest there has to be some digitalization."

    Yes, and there are many amazing things that can be done with technology. Unfortunately, it's expensive, and the museum has zero expertise in this category. They will fumble these projects again and again, without much doubt. But the learning process may yield long-term value. And none of this explains orange!

    And:
    "However, I hope their attempt to keep crowds coming, does not detract from the original intent of the museum."

    What is the original intent, though? Does anyone know what Mystic Seaport Museum is supposed to be?? Would 'original intent' even matter?

    And you wrote:
    "After all, if people want radical craft instead of traditional ones, they might consider joining the Navy."

    There's another aspect to 'radical craft' that I think they're imagining. First of all, the "craft" can mean "crafts" --things like blacksmithing. These can be called "radical" because they lead to artisanal work -- a radical post-modern adaptation of a traditional skill. Second, 'radical craft' can also mean ocean racing and yachting. There has always been a tension at the museum between the money-drenched yachtsmen, often among the trustees, and the museum's traditional and quite unique focus on merchant vessels. It is a rare museum that collects tools and not objects of luxury, and that is one thing that I have always found extraordinary about Mystic Seaport Museum. It may be that radical craft in the form of ocean racing vessels will occupy a place of greater prominence, and working vessels will be pushed down the slope of the museum's interests. Whether this is a successful gambit depends on whether they have read the tea leaves correctly: is the future focused on opulence and wealth, or is it focused on working people? Would they rather collect America's Cup racers... or Grand Banks fishing vessels? Not a bad question to pose on the 200th birthday of Karl Marx! He was "radical". Ha ha. In any case, as I wrote previously, I think they're about 25 years late with the word 'radical'. It's got no legs.

    You concluded:
    "Hope this will not impact your plans to continue the CN classes, that would be unfortunate."

    It has done so already. And yes, it is unfortunate.

    Frank Reed
    Clockwork Mapping / ReedNavigation.com
    Conanicut Island USA

       
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