MYSTIC, Conn. — Mystic Seaport Museum opened a new exhibition, “A Way with Wood: Celebrating Craft,” July 3.The show will introduce visitors to the many ways people transform one of nature’s most malleable materials to objects of utility, art, and beauty. It will be on display in the Thompson Exhibition Building’s Collins Gallery.
At the core of the exhibition will be a boat-restoration and boat-building demonstration staffed by shipwrights from the Museum’s Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard. For this exhibition, the shipwrights will carry out different projects over the course of the show. The first will be a restoration of Afterglow, the tender to the Museum’s schooner Brilliant. Following will be the completion of a restoration of the Woods Hole spritsail cat Sandy Ford, and then the construction of a new dory for the L.A. Dunton. Little to no power tools will be used; the focus will be on work using hand tools.
Complementing the shipwrights’ work is a section where outside artisans will be invited in for periods to set up shop to practice and share their craft with the public. This changing stable of woodworkers might feature a variety of different disciplines: woodcarving, furniture making, sculpture, and model making are some of the possibilities.
Throughout the 5,000 square-foot gallery, there will be rotating displays of objects from the Museum’s collections, such as rare tools, unique carvings, small boats, photographs, and other artifacts that illustrate the wide range of ways wood has been shaped by the artisan’s hand.
The displays in A Way with Wood will change as new projects, artisans, and objects rotate in and out. The exhibition is intended to evolve over time and provide different views into the world of craftsmanship and wood.
“Warm, renewable, flexible, strong – the remarkable qualities of wood have appealed to countless generations, making it the traditional go-to material for crafting boats, buildings, furniture, and much more” says Director of Exhibits Elysa Engelman. “We’re excited to be using our largest and newest gallery to show-off our staff skills and our collections, by celebrating woodcraft and the craft of woodworking in a maritime setting.”
A Way with Wood replaces the previously announced SALT: Tracing Memories, an installation by Japanese artist Motoi Yamaoto, which was scheduled to open April 26. That exhibition was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. SALT is tentatively rescheduled for spring 2021.