Maritime Exhibit at National Museum

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History opened "On the Water: Stories from Maritime America," a new, permanent exhibition designed to engage the public in an exploration of America's maritime heritage. The 8,500 sq ft exhibition builds on the Smithsonian's National Watercraft Collection of rigged ship models, patent models, documents and images to bring the sights, sounds and stories from the oceans, inland rivers and coastal communities to the museum's millions of visitors.

Using 360 artifacts and 390 images and graphics, "On the Water" explores life and work on the nation's waterways, discovering the stories of fishermen, shipbuilders, merchant mariners, passengers and many others. From 18th-century sailing ships, 19th-century steamboats and fishing craft to today's mega containerships, the exhibition reveals America's maritime connections through objects, documents, audiovisual programs and interactives. Visitors will discover the continuous and significant role maritime activity has played in American lives.

A companion exhibition to "America on the Move," which explores how transportation has changed America, "On the Water" is made possible by the A.P. Moller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Moller Foundation.

"On the Water" is organized into seven chronological sections and focuses primarily on maritime life in America from the 17th century to the present. Among the highlighted objects on display are highly detailed, large ship models, including the tobacco ship Brilliant and a cutaway of the modern factory trawler Alaska Ocean; artifacts on loan from the North Carolina Maritime Museum from Blackbeard's ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge; and a large, slowly rotating ship's propeller from the steamship Indiana.

"On the Water" includes objects from across the nation-the inland waterways as well as the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Gulf Coast-linking maritime activity to larger stories in American history, such as the maritime component of the California gold rush.

To view a video of the exhibit, go to:


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