What Can You Do with a Ship When It’s Retired?

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Queen Mary (Turbo steamship : 1936)
Caught by the famed photographer Keith Beken of Beken of Cowes, Queen Mary (1936) sets out for New York for the last time. (From P0001.003, Photographs of Steamships, Motorships and Ocean Liners)

Welcome to the New Year, dear readers! I hope you had a peaceful, restful, enjoyable holiday, which now is finally drawing to a close. As usual, this past season while I took a rest from work, I watched movies. I did not watch, however, one of my childhood favorites, that old Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye chestnut White Christmas.  But I thought about it when processing a curious part of MS0528, the Herbert Beazley Ocean Liner Ephemera Collection. That section we named, “Repurposed Ships.” You see, in the film Bing goes on television to ask his old Army buddies to come to Vermont for Christmas, to help out their former commanding officer who now operates a ski lodge. To introduce the idea, Bing croons, “What can you do with a General, when he stops being a General? Oh what can you do with a General who retires?”

Beazley’s liners

Herbert Beazley was all about ocean liners. A small series within his sprawling collection concerns ocean liners that are no longer ships. Many of you will know about one of them, the Queen Mary, now a hotel in Long Beach, California. Since 2018 another former Cunarder, Queen Elizabeth 2, has joined her as a floating hotel in Dubai. Beazley also collected material about the ongoing proposals to repurpose the United States.   Read more

Artifacts on the Move!

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Entrance to the Museum

Recently I had the good fortune of being in the Boston area and was able to visit some of our artifacts currently on loan to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.  Their exhibition, Ocean Liners:  Glamour, Speed, and Style is open from now until October 9, after which it will be traveling to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  We loaned them a number of fantastic pieces, including some that are quite large.

In the second room, seen in the picture above, the engineering of these mighty ships was discussed and two of our artifacts were included.  The first is the piece hanging from the ceiling, a towing tank model of SS United States.  This model was tested in the U.S. Navy’s David W. Taylor Model Basin at Bethesda, Maryland in 1946.  The other piece is the cream-colored half model on the wall to the right.  It doesn’t look like much in this photo, but it is a 21′ plating model for SS United States, made in 1949.   Read more