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When Archer Huntington, Homer Ferguson, and the team of workers from Newport News Shipbuilding broke ground for  The Mariners’ Museum and Park in 1930, they could not have foreseen the journey we have taken over the past 90 years. Yet  Huntington could not have had a stronger sense of the Museum’s path, which he communicated in an early letter to staff: 

On the whole, I think it is bad for the spirit to bother about what other museums have done,
in view of the fact that we do not ever wish to do the same. If the Mariners’ Museum has no new
line of work and no new museum principles to prove, it is a waste of time and energy.  

Over nine decades, The Mariners’ Museum and Park has held true to this philosophy. We hope you take some pride in the  report below, because YOUR commitment and support has us standing stronger than ever 90 years later. 

A Collections-Based, Community-Focused Strategy 

We have been remarkably productive in the face of 2020 headwinds. In keeping with the Collections-Based tenet of our strategy,  investment in the conservation of our world-class Collections remained front and center. This year, while our galleries were  closed, we invested in the Batten Conservation Complex and fully renovated our Clean Lab! Through the generosity of  numerous partners, we increased the Lab’s footprint by about 33% and dramatically improved the environmental controls,  creating a safer and more stable workspace for the artifacts we treat in the Lab.  

This project reflects the Community-Focused tenet of our strategy by expanding public access to the important work of caring  for our Collections. New, large windows will give guests an open view into the Clean Lab. Everyone from local schoolchildren to  international guests can see, up-close, our conservators treating objects and conducting research, and screens will display live  camera feeds from the conservators’ instruments. For 2021, our Museum educators are already envisioning new K-12 Educational  Enrichment Programs centered around the science in our new Clean Lab and our Museum conservators are already building  artifact treatment plans. 

Similarly, this year, while schoolchildren attended class virtually with no field trips, we invested in the renovation of  our two interactive video conferencing studios! Our Education team, responding to the needs of our local community, pivoted  rapidly this summer, developing a dozen virtual programs – revamping existing programs and creating new ones – to better expose  our young mariners to our world-class Collections from inside these state-of-the-art studios. The members of our Education team  were ready to go by the fall and have already served hundreds of kids not only from the local community, but from Ohio, New York,  Indiana, and all across the country. For 2021 and beyond, we now have both the means to continue serving kids while they are  learning from home, and also the capacity to reach kids nationally and globally like never before.  

Our virtual engagement with schoolchildren is only one aspect of what we now call our “Virtual Museum.” We transformed our  storytelling capabilities to make The Mariners’ Museum Collections and the amazing stories within them accessible to  you anytime, anywhere. Your investment in our beloved Museum over the past several years had already improved digital access  to our Collections, allowing us to pivot rapidly. 

Our team got busy in March, creating new content to distribute across our  website, social media, our blog site, YouTube, and Zoom. That work continues.  

  • As I am writing this letter, our blogs alone have received nearly 112,000 page views since March, more than tripling the 35,000 page views during the same  time last year!  
  • We migrated our popular in-person Maritime Mondays program for kids online  and recently learned that we have fans of the program in Siberia!  
  • Our team has now hosted over 50 programs online since March, including  a popular series of three programs with a SpaceX mission manager who  connected our history of maritime exploration with our future of space  exploration. Fascinating! 

The Mariners’ Park 

While our virtual programs allow us to serve children and adults anywhere in the  world, we still love serving people right here in the beautiful Mariners’ Park. To  provide an even better experience for our community, this fall we established  the first Park Department in our 90-year history! This new Department finally  creates the proper vehicle to marshall the necessary resources to support a more  robust stewardship program than our Park has ever seen. Our goal is to set a  national standard for the care of our forest, the Mariners’ Lake, and the wildlife that  call both home. Our Park has already received national recognition from the Trip  Advisor brand FlipKey on its list of the top 50 garden and conservation spots to visit  in the country. We believe we can become a nationally significant destination while  preserving the peaceful intimacy of walking on the Noland Trail, enjoying a family  picnic overlooking the James River from the Lions Bridge, or creating a memory  with a family photo under the live oak next to Anna Hyatt Huntington’s lions. 

Thank You! 

As we celebrate our 90th anniversary, we return to Archer Huntington’s words at the  start of this letter. The “new Museum principle” that we are doing our very best  to prove is that when service and stewardship guide our hearts and our heads, momentum builds and sustainability follows. To that end, I am excited to share  that this will be the first annual appeal in recent memory that we will use not to plug  holes in our current year’s budget, but to fuel our 2021 work. As we lean forward,  we can’t thank YOU enough for YOUR support that has allowed us to reach this  important and promising tipping point. With our gratitude comes an invitation  to invest again this year. Whether your philanthropic contribution is a membership,  volunteer time, or a gift of any size, you make everything we do possible.  THANK YOU! 

With sincere appreciation, 

Howard H. Hoege III
President & CEO

If you have a passion for Conservation, Library, Education, Park and the Noland Trail, or a different area, we can help you place your valuable investment where you would like to make a difference. If you have any questions or would like to discuss different ways to support the Museum, please contact Luisa A. Vázquez-López at (757) 591-7705 or