Mystic Seaport Museum received a $60,000 grant award from The Champlin Foundation in 2012, toward the five-year, $12.5 million campaign to restore the Museum’s flagship, the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan, to sail the vessel on a commemorative “38th Voyage” in the summer of 2014, and to share the Morgan’s journey onsite, onboard and online.
Over an 80-‐year career, the Morgan sailed on 37 voyages worldwide. The 38th Voyage brought this restored ship and accompanying 10,000 sq. ft. outdoor exhibit to historic New England ports with a new mission: to raise awareness of America’s maritime heritage and issues of ocean sustainability and conservation. The National Historic Landmark vessel had not left Mystic Seaport since arriving in 1941. Throughout this project, 21st-‐century minds collaborated to find inspiration, complexity, and understanding aboard a 19th-‐century ship. The 38th Voyage’s innovative traveling exhibit to ports of call along the northeastern seaboard attracted people outside the typical museum audience. Social media, print media, radio, and television publicity efforts extended the reach of the project to national and international audiences
History museums nationwide face common challenges: evolving visitor expectations, increased competition, and the urgent call to make history relevant to contemporary audiences. The 38th voyage of the Charles W. Morgan and its related programs truly changed Mystic Seaport at a critical time in its history. This high profile project, delivered at the highest level of excellence, reignited enthusiasm for our then 85-year-old institution and underscored the Museum’s commitment to authenticity, hands-on learning, and historical literacy.
The Morgan visited three of the top five whaling ports in 19th-‐century America. The centerpiece was a long-‐anticipated homecoming to New Bedford, MA, the ship’s construction site and homeport. The Morgan also encountered humpbacks on the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary off Cape Cod, where the Morgan lowered a whaleboat to symbolize humankind’s changing relationship with the oceans and marine mammals.