Marco Polo and the Bank of St. George

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Camogli, Italy with the Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta on the Ligurian coast. (QW 114)

Some of my most interesting research projects begin with something very minor, which leads me down a path that I never expected. This one began with a beautiful watercolor showing Camogli, Italy with a church and part of a castle behind it. That was a quick research project: get the history of the structures that are featured and the name of the body of water. Then I looked up the history of the artist, which is where it all unraveled into several days of research.

The artist is Admiral Bertram Mordaunt Chambers, a British naval official who was the principal port convoy officer of Halifax harbor during the December 6, 1917 explosion. His official reports state that he ate breakfast overlooking the harbor through his large glass windows, and then five minutes after he left the room the glass shattered into tiny shards that tore up the woodwork that had been behind his seat. He is one lucky guy!   Read more

Artifact of the Month – dredged anchor watercolor

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14-40-01

For December, our artifact of the month is a lovely watercolor of a dredged anchor, the sea life growing on it almost making it look like a holiday wreath.  This piece is new to our collection and the staff were all pretty excited about it as it.  That excitement grew as the piece was further researched.

The image is supposed to be a depiction of an anchor dredged up in 1885 off Cape Ann by Alpheus Hyatt.  To anybody with some knowledge of our institutional history, the name Hyatt should sound familiar.  Alpheus was the father of our founder, Anna Hyatt Huntington.   Read more

Learning to trust Wikipedia

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USS Lancaster Eagle
USS Lancaster Eagle

Coming up with ways to allow the public better access to our collection is something we constantly think about. After all, that’s the main reason we created this blog. Besides this blog, I also try to post an object a week on Twitter for our followers to see. Here’s our Twitter handle if you don’t already follow us, @MarinersMuseum. Another activity I became interested in this past summer was editing Wikipedia. We’re conditioned to believe that Wikipedia isn’t a reliable source and we should not look there for answers (yet we all do anyway), but I’ve learned that this isn’t necessarily the case. There are a great many people working to make sure that the articles are well-written and, more importantly, use proper sources. I tend to use Wikipedia as a place to start when I begin researching something. I can usually find a few major details and then some resources that I can turn to for more information.

Knowing that people come to Wikipedia so frequently, whether they admit it or not, I believe it is important for us, the museum, to use the site to let the public know what we can offer them. I have gradually been working on adding our objects to various pages, especially examples from various artists. Some of my favorite additions include a picture of our music box model on the page for the PS Commonwealth, an anchor on the SS Christopher Columbus and a painting for John Cleveley the Elder.   Read more