Mystic Seaport

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Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea
Mystic Seaport, from the Mystic River Estuary
Established 1929
Location Mystic, Connecticut, USA
Type History Museum
Collection size sailing ships and boats
President Steve White
Curator Paul O'Pecko

Mystic Seaport or Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea, in Mystic, Connecticut, is the largest maritime museum in the world. It is notable for its collection of sailing ships and boats, and for the re-creation of the crafts and fabric of an entire 19th-century seafaring village. It consists of more than 60 original historic buildings, most of them rare commercial structures moved to the 19-acre (0.077 km2) site and meticulously restored.[1]


The museum was established in 1929 as the "Marine Historical Association". Its first fame came with the acquisition in 1941 of the Charles W. Morgan, the only surviving wooden sailing whaler. The seaport was one of the first living history museums in the United States, with a collection of buildings and craftsmen to show how work was done. The seaport now receives about 250,000 visitors each year.

In addition, it supports research via an extensive library; runs the Frank C. Munson Institute of American Maritime Studies, a summer graduate-level academic program, established in 1955 by maritime historian Professor Robert G. Albion of Harvard University; and, in conjunction with Williams College, hosts Williams–Mystic, an undergraduate program in maritime studies. Outreach includes sailing and history classes for area children.

Mystic Seaport is a popular destination for boaters, who pay to dock overnight just a short walk away from ships such as the Charles W. Morgan and the fishing schooner L. A. Dunton.

Vessel collection[edit]

Children learning to sail in JY15s and Dyer Dhows
Sabino preparing to dock.

Several of the vessels are the unique survivors of their type in the world. The collection includes:

Four ships have been designated National Historic Landmarks: Charles W. Morgan, L. A. Dunton, Emma C. Berry, and Sabino


Street in Mystic Seaport, masts of Charles W. Morgan in background

The Preservation Shipyard is an important part of the museum. It is where traditional tools and techniques are used to preserve the Museum's collection of historic vessels, including the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan. A replica of the ship La Amistad was constructed in the shipyard and launched in 2000. To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the end of slavery in Great Britain, on 21 June 2007, Amistad departed from New Haven, Connecticut on a 14,000-mile (23,000 km) transatlantic voyage to Great Britain, Lisbon, West Africa and the Caribbean, marking the Atlantic trade and slave route.

The 19th-century seafaring village contains nearly all the types of general and specialized trades associated with building and operating a sailing fleet. They include a chandlery, sail loft, ropewalk, cooperage, shipping agent's office, printing office, bank and others. Also included is The Spouter Tavern, open seasonally and serving "travelers' fare". Each building is used both to show the original activity and to display multiple examples of objects sold or constructed; for instance, the nautical instrument shop displays sextants, nautical timepieces and the like. Demonstrations at the cooperage show how casks are assembled.

Additional buildings house more exhibits. One is a 1128th scale model of the entire Mystic River area c.1870, complete down to the outhouse behind every residence; a model over 50 feet (15 m) long. Another contains a collection of carved ship figureheads. Also among the museum's buildings is a planetarium that demonstrates how seamen used stars for navigation.


Sailing instruction is given here, as well as tourist rides at nominal cost in various historical small craft. Such tours give a good overview of historic ships at their moorings.


Mystic Seaport's music program is unusual as it prominently features sea shanties in their original contexts as work songs. Regular sessions find shanty singers keeping museum visitors in line as they haul sails or turn a capstan.

The Mystic Seaport Sea Music Festival, held annually in June since 1979, is among the oldest and largest in the United States.

In popular culture[edit]

Pictures of Mystic Seaport[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About Mystic Seaport". Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea. Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  2. ^ "FedEx Lobster Commercial". YouTube. 9 August 2007. Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  3. ^ "iMuseum". Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  • Maynard Bray, Benjamin Fuller, and Peter Vermilya, Mystic Seaport Watercraft. (2002) ISBN 0-913372-94-3

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°21′45″N 71°57′55″W / 41.36250°N 71.96528°W / 41.36250; -71.96528