The Maritime Museum Pivoting to High Art

Aug. 7, 2019
The Maritime Museum Pivoting to High Art
Thompson Exhibition Building at the Mystic Seaport Museum. Photo Credit: Mystic Seaport Museum

In addition to hosting Tate Britain’s exhibition of watercolors by J.M.W. Turner in October, Mystic Seaport Museum has invited Brooklyn-based environmental artist Mary Mattingly to create a new installation using objects from the museum’s permanent collection of more than two million pieces. “Ocean as Commons,” opening August 10th, tells a story of “how we are all touched by the high seas.”

A few years ago, the Mystic Seaport Museum built new galleries with an overarching goal in mind: they had to be “good enough for Turner,” the celebrated British master of marine and landscape art.

Apparently, they are. In October, “J.M.W. Turner: Watercolors from Tate” will open at this small museum in Connecticut known for its large collection of ships. The exhibition will be on loan from Tate Britain in London, a national museum that usually partners with world-famous art temples like the Metropolitan Museum.

The Turner show, which is made up of nearly 100 works, is Mystic’s splashiest move in its attempt to become an arts destination. It is not, however, its only one.

On Aug. 10, the museum will open “Ocean as Commons,” an exhibition by Brooklyn-based environmental artist Mary Mattingly. Drawn from Mystic’s permanent collection of more than two million objects, the exhibition will use 330 chronometers hung from the ceiling, salt cod boxes, salmon can labels and whale bones, among other things, to show how humanity depends on the high seas. Next year, a suite of galleries at the museum will be filled with a vast, sculpted salt installation by the Japanese artist Motoi Yamamoto.

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American Art

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