Erika Cosme began her early college years studying Anthropology and Classical at the University of South Carolina, focusing on the subfield Archaeology. While she enjoyed getting to work with historical and cultural artifacts, what she did not love were the 12 hour days outside in the South Carolina heat. She wanted to continue her pursuit in history and cultural heritage, but preferred to do it in an indoor, air conditioned environment. After some research, she found that a career in the museum profession would be perfect. She went on to earn her Master's Degree in Museum Studies. She volunteered at museums in South Carolina and New York before coming to Virginia, where she was introduced to The Mariners’ Museum and Park. Her favorite exhibit she got to work with was “The Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Biblical Times” at the Discovery Museum in New York City. The opportunity to work so closely with ancient documents confirmed her desire to be in the museum field.
Erika began as an intern at The Mariners’ Museum, helping to curate the “Speed & Innovation” exhibition. She remained on as a volunteer after her internship was completed, eventually joining the staff full time. Erika worked both in the Education Department, teaching educational programming; and also in the Digital Services department re-working the Ages of Exploration website. Currently, she is in the Department of Interpretation as the Content and Interpretation Developer. This title is simply a wordy way of saying she performs research on various topics, and helps pick the objects and write text that goes into the museum’s exhibitions. She also continues teaching programs to both youth and adult groups as needed. Ultimately, her passion is studying ancient histories. Since joining The Mariners’ Museum, she has learned more about maritime history and culture than she ever thought she would, but enjoys the challenge of studying the maritime world. She loves her profession, and is thrilled to be part of the museum community.
With a new year ahead, our team at The Mariners’ Museum and Park is embracing a new theme in our galleries and programs: The Multicultural Mariner. Multiculturalism incorporates ideas, beliefs, and people from many different countries and cultural backgrounds. This theme is built around our mission: we connect people to the world’s waters, because through our waters – through our shared maritime heritage – we are connected to one another. We’re excited to share some of the topics, people, and cultures we plan to highlight throughout the year.
Annual Heritage Months:
There are several periods within the year designated toward recognizing specific ethnic and marginalized groups. We plan to highlight:Read more
We here at The Mariners’ Museum and Park take pride in our mission which states that we connect people to the world’s waters, because that is how we are connected to one another. On our website, museum president Howard Hoege III emphasizes that, “We strive to provide an intellectual and emotional experience that is shared by generations, across cultures, and without barriers or judgment.”1 The museum would like to take this opportunity to share that May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. As May draws to a close, please take a moment to reflect on the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have contributed to our understanding of the Pacific Ocean, ocean navigation, and maritime knowledge in general.
In Memoriam – A Loss to the Maritime and Polynesian CommunityRead more
So far, world events of 2020 and 2021 have been interesting, to say the very least. In the maritime world, a unique event occurred on March 23, 2021. If you watched the news that day and for many days following, you most likely heard about and saw how it unfolded. Can you guess what I’m talking about? I’ll give you a second before I reveal the answer.
Karavakia! What is this you may ask? It is a Greek word meaning “little ship” or “small boat.” The Greek tradition of Karavakia is the decorating of small boats during the Christmas season. It dates back to Greece’s ancient seafaring days. Greece is settled along the Mediterranean Sea. Much of its culture involved fishing and trading throughout this region. Thus, sailors were often gone for extended periods while trying to earn a living. In those days, sailors were often the heads of their households. While they were away, the women and children took care of the home until their husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers returned. When Greek women saw their men’s ships return safely to harbor, they would welcome them home with a celebration, festively decorating small wooden boats. This became a joyous maritime custom that became ingrained in the holiday season.
In the 19th century, new customs, such as decorating Christmas trees became more prominent in the Christmas season. However, over the years, the Karavakia tradition began to make a comeback, and the practice of decorating boats was once again seen throughout Greek cities and homes. St. Nicholas in Christian faith is the patron saint who watches over and protects sailors. The Feast Day of Saint Nicholas takes place on 6th December. This is the day boats are decorated, and they are displayed until 6th January, Epiphany. In the ancient days, the boats would have been painted or decorated in a similar fashion. Today, the boats are more ornate, often still painted, but also draped in strings of lights and garland, and trimmed with ornaments. Larger Greek cities like Athens and Thessaloniki light up beautiful Christmas boats in their public squares. If you get the chance to see these boats, you may notice that the main holiday colors are blue and white, the national colors as seen on the Greek flag, rather than red and green.Read more