You have played an important role in the Museum’s accomplishments in 2019! I am excited to celebrate the successes of our partnership this year and look forward to an even better 2020. You help us demonstrate that the Museum’s role in our community is bigger than merely displaying artifacts. We create space for people of all ages to have impactful experiences with one another, rooted in our world-class collection. We are truly grateful for your support this past year and humbly ask for your continued investment in our work.
We say our mission over and over again: We connect people to the world’s waters because that’s how we are connected to one another. When we talk about connections we are talking about those moments that cut across age, gender, socioeconomic status, and race or ethnicity, and remind us we are all a part of the same maritime community. We make these connections possible at the Museum by staying true to our four core functions: Conservation, Research, Exhibitions, and Programs. The best way to show you how these functions help us fulfill our mission is through some of the great stories that happened at the Museum this year.
In April of this year, our staff, in partnership with Newport News Shipbuilding, accomplished a major conservation feat. The team replaced the iconic USS Monitor’s turret support system, making this the first time anyone has seen the turret’s roof since the night the Monitor sank in 1862. The resupport sets the stage for dry-ice cleaning, one of the conservation techniques perfected in our lab. Conserving the turret allows us to connect with the crew members and everyone who has had a hand in the life of this iconic artifact. From the original Monitor Boys and their descendants to conservation staff and shipyard workers, hundreds of people are connected to others because they all have stories tied to the turret. We are honored to conserve one-of-a-kind objects to preserve our shared maritime story for generations to come.
A family recently discovered that our Library and Archives is the permanent home for the collection of letters, documents, and objects donated by their family generations ago. The family visited the Museum to research the stories of their ancestors. They used our archives as a research tool and connected with the family of mariners they never knew. As they pored over the pages, they were surprised to find such deep maritime roots and proud to teach their children about their family history. We are honored to be a research center for families, students, writers, and even scientists to explore our maritime world.
Making new friends isn’t always easy, but at Maritime Mondays, families come together and kids meet new friends all while learning how we are all connected through the water. Each week children, parents, and grandparents gather in the Museum lobby for story time and a craft. A recently transferred military family found that Maritime Mondays is the perfect place to join their new community. Now they come every week to see their friends, hear a new story, and create new memories. The Museum is a home for our youngest mariners to grow up in and learn about their maritime heritage. We are honored to offer programs, like Maritime Mondays, that reach different audiences and allow us to engage with our guests on a deeper and more impactful level.
On June 6, we commemorated the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy through a one day exhibition. A woman came to see the exhibition with a framed photo of her father, a WWII veteran who drove a ship that carried US soldiers to Omaha Beach on D-Day. The exhibit included members of our team describing troop movements on a massive floor map. Our guest listened, knowing that her father experienced it all. She left her father’s photo with an interpreter to share his story with other visitors that day. This exhibition was a great opportunity for our guests to find their own maritime connection as well as connect with the stories of the thousands who served on that fateful day in 1944. We are honored to create exhibitions that share the stories of mariners who can no longer tell their own.
The commonality between Conservation, Research, Programs, and Exhibitions is that they each connect people to their families, other visitors, and mariners across generations. There are hundreds of these amazing stories we could share from 2019. I hope these stories highlight the impact your support has in everything we do. Your continued investment provides direct support for the four core functions and helps make these stories possible. Together we can continue to foster experiences like these to connect people to the world’s waters, because through the waters—through our shared maritime heritage—we are connected to one another.
With sincere appreciation,
Howard H. Hoege III
President and Chief Executive Officer
The Mariners’ Museum and Park connects people to the world’s waters, because through the waters—through our shared maritime heritage—we are connected to one another.