As a museum we deal with a lot of wonderful donors, but few make as big of an impact as Peter Ifland. So when we learned that he passed away on May 20, we were devastated. Peter has been involved with The Mariners’ Museum since 1996 while consulting with Willem F.J. Mörzer Bruyns, who was at the time curator of navigation at Nederlands Scheepvaartmuseum. Bruyns invited Peter to The Mariners’ Museum to attend a symposium on navigational and scientific instruments. Peter then worked with museum staff to publish the book Taking the Stars: Celestial Navigation from Argonauts to Astronauts in 1998. This was followed by numerous donations over the years of Peter’s extensive instrument collection, totaling 154 pieces, many of which can be found in his book. Besides these donated pieces, he also gave us the funds to purchase other instruments.
Because of Peter’s generosity, it has been said that our collection of navigating instruments “ranks among the world’s largest and most significant of its kind” (Bruyns). And so I wanted to share some highlights from the collection to honor Peter.