Fall is here; classes have begun. But I’m certainly not ready to give up summer, and so we’ll reminisce. Two months ago I gave a pair of talks at the New London Custom House for the New London Maritime Society. My time there got off to a fantastic start — lunch at Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock. Not only was the lobster roll divine (maybe I have been too south for too long), but I also met a direct descendant of Captain Thomas A. Scott, the Dock’s namesake and the topic of my first talk: Chasing Scott: Researching New London’s ‘Master Wrecker.’ There was a great turnout for a mid-week afternoon talk and an overwhelming interest in the man I’ve been researching for a long, long time. I think a biography would be great fun…
After making plans to connect with Scott’s heir during the New London off-season, I whiled away the afternoon in the Maritime Society’s wonderful archive. Susan Tamulevich, the director, was a wonderful host, and I look forward to going back and spending some serious research hours in their library. I also had the pleasure of meeting David Zapatka. Zapatka was taking down his amazing photography exhibit “Stars and Lighthouses”–a collection of wondrous non-Photoshopped images of lighthouses lit at night with stars in the background. I’ve looked at a whole lot of lighthouse photographs and I’ve never seen any like these. Check them out — I’m saving up for a print.
The evening talk had another nice audience and a great discussion. I jabbered about my current book project, which I’m now tentatively calling Shipwrecks and the Making of the Modern Beach. The talk was an opportunity for me to take that difficult step back and try to give a coherent overview of the project. It was a difficult, but invaluable and has helped me immensely as I put together the book proposal.
In the next post, I’ll share some of the research and graphics I finished up this summer on the illustrious Captain Thomas A. Scott.
A few weeks back I visited the New Orleans Museum of Art. Like any self-respecting American art museum, NOMA holds several shipwreck-themed objets d’art. A fellow shipwreck enthusiast spied the most impressive on the second floor balcony. There she stood in rapture, fully taken by Thomas Birch’s 1849 oil painting Rocky Coast with Shipwreck. Who could blame her? An epic, Romantic image. A timeless topic. Another world for a NOLA five-year old.
The Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, Virginia, recently put up a new shipwreck-themed exhibit. Titled “Abandon Ship: Stories of Survival,’ the display includes a vest [pictured above] worn by a survivor of the recent Costa Concordia wreck!
From a recent review of ‘Abaondon Ship’:
The new exhibit, which runs into next year, is the museum’s first new exhibit since 2010. Timed to coincide with the 100thanniversary year of the Titanic’s sinking, the $250,000 exhibit uses words, images and audio recordings to capture the first-person accounts of shipwreck survivors and rescuers.
“This is not about shipwrecks,” said Lyles Forbes, the museum’s chief curator. “The shipwreck is where our stories begin. These are stories of survival, raw human emotions and people’s reactions when put in desperate, dangerous situations.
While the new exhibit uses more audio and video technology than most of the museum’s past exhibits, it also has hands-on features and games: a lifeboat and raft that people can step into and an activity that allows people to choose the five important items to grab if they were fleeing a sinking ship. (Hint: the MP3 player and historical romance that are among the 18 options are not the right choices.)
You can find the exhibit website here.
If you’re out west, be sure to check out Richard Wells’s (no relation, as far as I know) exhibit “Shipwrecks of the Washington Coast” at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment State Park in Ilwaco, Washington before it closes at the end of April. From the press release:
Featured in the exhibit are 36 sketches by artist Richard Wells, illustrator for “A Guide to Shipwreck Sites Along the Washington Coast” published in 1989. Wells’ works are finely detailed pen and ink drawings of ships at their wreck sites. His drawings display scenes ranging from 1775 to 1965, including two historic wrecks from 1896 and 1936 of the Potrimpos and the Iowa. The Potrimpos wrecked in 1896 after drifting into the Long Beach Peninsula while waiting for a cargo pickup and the Iowa was stranded on a sandbar at the mouth of the Columbia River in January 1936. Wells’ original illustrations were donated to State Parks after they were published in 1989.
Admission to the center is $5 per adult and $2.50 per child ages 7 to 17. Children 6 years and younger enter for free. The interpretive center, which sits on a 200-foot bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, is worth the price of admission alone.
With March Madness over, we’ve transitioned to April (or Titanic) madness. Titanic 3D opens today to kick it off. The reviews are in and they’re good/borderline great. The film’s stars have appropriately reminisced. Its scarlet has compared her role to a “bit of a shipwreck.” Unfortunately, I don’t think my grad-student expense account can handle those 3D tickets. Tell me what ya’ll think about it!
Elsewhere in Titanic-land things are heating up.
There’s more… lots more. I’ll post all I come across in the days to come. (If you find something interesting — please pass it along!) What ever will we do after April 15th?