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Visiting Mystic Seaport: A Pictorial Trip to the 19th Century

Updated on July 22, 2014
Gazebo in center of the village overlooking the Mystic River.
Gazebo in center of the village overlooking the Mystic River. | Source

Who Says You Can Never Go Back in Time?

Whoever said, "You can never go back to the way things were," couldn't have visited Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea, which has become a timeless national treasure in today's ever changing world.

My husband and I first fell in love with this authentically re-created 19th century seafaring village along the Mystic River in Connecticut when we were newlyweds in the mid 1970s. Back then we strolled hand and hand through the various shops and buildings on a beautiful day in early fall, took a ride on the historic steamboat, the Sabino, warmed our bellies and hands with a delicious cup of New England Clam Chowder and enjoyed talking to the docents. My husband was a new teacher and he was eager to learn tid-bits of history and exciting new activities that he could incorporate into his fifth grade classroom curriculum.

After we had our son we returned several times and saw the museum through the eyes of a child who was thrilled to walk on-board the historic boats and participate in some of the hands on activities that the museum had for children.

This past winter we returned as a couple, this time during the Christmas season. Though we had aged and changed, the grounds had a wonderful sameness about them- the Charles W. Morgan was once again in the working shipyard undergoing restoration, the gazebo still graced the commons and the 19th century shops and village were, for the most part, how we remembered them.

Some buildings were new such as the large welcome center and huge book and gift shop with an adjacent bakery. There was also a new, upscale restaurant, Latitude 41 Degrees, that had a rustic nautical ambiance, blazing fireplace and wonderful seafood and American fare.

The rest of this hub will be filled with winter photos that were taken during our December 2011 visit and will include 10 fun things to do at Mystic Seaport plus brief descriptions of current and ongoing exhibits and activities. Resource links will be provided at the end of the hub for anyone wishing to find out specific information about the museum's entrance fees, operating schedule, special events and activities, where to stay and where to eat.

Mystic Seaport Visitors Welcome Center

Source

10 Fun Reasons to Visit Mystic Seaport

  • Explore a seafaring village comprised of more than thirty New England trade shops and businesses from the 1800s.The buildings are historic structures that have been relocated to re-create an authentic village.
  • Visit the Children's Museum and playground which are designed to keep younger children engaged and entertained. The playground has a nautical theme and includes 3 replica boats that kids can climb and play on.
  • See shows at the Treworgy Planetarium and learn how to locate and identify the stars, planets and constellations and how ship captains and their crews used stars for navigation.
  • See a working 19th century shipyard. The museum maintains and owns over 500 vessels of various sizes and all work is done on the museum premises.
  • See the current restoration of the Charles W. Morgan. Visitors can climb aboard and also view work being done on the exterior of the ship.
  • See the new Tugs Exhibit to learn the history of tug boats.
  • Take a horse and carriage ride through the village during the warmer months.
  • Learn about maritime history from world renowned experts as well as knowledgeable docents. As you stroll and explore the shops and grounds you will encounter historians, musicians and storytellers all dressed in period garb.
  • Climb aboard several Historic Landmark ships and/or take a cruise along the Mystic River aboard a hundred year old steamboat- the Sabino. Visitors in the warmer months can also sail on the full-rigged Joseph Conrad and help raise its sail.
  • Visit the Maritime Art Gallery which has ongoing and special exhibits as well as hands-on art activities, seminars and classes.


Photos of Mystic Seaport in Winter

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Photo of poster of winter 2011-2012 exhibits. Photo of sign outside the Children's Museum.Photo of the nautical style children's playground. Photo of a beautifully restored wooden boat. Photo of the general store and town clock. Photo of group of school children touring the Mystic Village shops.Photo of several of the boats in the 500 fleet collection owned by the museum. Photo of the entrance to the museum gift shop and adjacent bakery.
Photo of poster of winter 2011-2012 exhibits.
Photo of poster of winter 2011-2012 exhibits. | Source
Photo of sign outside the Children's Museum.
Photo of sign outside the Children's Museum. | Source
Photo of the nautical style children's playground.
Photo of the nautical style children's playground. | Source
Photo of a beautifully restored wooden boat.
Photo of a beautifully restored wooden boat. | Source
Source
Photo of the general store and town clock.
Photo of the general store and town clock. | Source
Photo of group of school children touring the Mystic Village shops.
Photo of group of school children touring the Mystic Village shops. | Source
Photo of several of the boats in the 500 fleet collection owned by the museum.
Photo of several of the boats in the 500 fleet collection owned by the museum. | Source
Photo of the entrance to the museum gift shop and adjacent bakery.
Photo of the entrance to the museum gift shop and adjacent bakery. | Source

New Tugboat Exhibit in R.J. Schaefer Building

Photo of the R.J. Schaefer Building.
Photo of the R.J. Schaefer Building. | Source

The Tugs Exhibit

Tugs is a new exhibit designed for family audiences and school groups and brings the fascinating story of American tugboats to museum visitors. This exhibit is as powerful as the vessels themselves and kids and adults alike will enjoy hands on activities such as operating the radio-controlled tug models.

In addition to learning about the history of tug boats during the past 150 years, the exhibit teaches visitors why today's tugs are stronger, safer, and more efficient than ever, and how they might change in the future.

Kingston II on Display at Museum Entrance

Photos of the Kingston II Tugboat.
Photos of the Kingston II Tugboat. | Source
Source

Kingston II

The Kingston II was built in the late 1930s by apprentice welders using scrap steel and is thought to be one of the earliest all-welded vessels. For more than 40 years the Kingston II guided submarines into and out of their berths at the Electric Boat Plant in Groton, Connecticut.

Since 1980 the Kingston II has been at the Mystic Seaport Museum and until recently was used to move the museum's larger historic vessels around. She is currently on display on the lawn in front of the Visitor Reception Center and her exterior was restored and painted so that she would look her best while being honored in this prominent position on the museum grounds.

Restoring an Icon: The Charles W. Morgan

Photo of the scaffolding entrance to climb aboard the Charles W. Morgan.
Photo of the scaffolding entrance to climb aboard the Charles W. Morgan. | Source

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Watch the Restoration

Restoration work being done on Charles W. Morgan.
Restoration work being done on Charles W. Morgan. | Source

Restoring an Icon: The Charles W. Morgan

Last fall the Charles W. Morgan was hauled ashore in the Museum's Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard for a planned three-year restoration. Visitors can see the work as it progresses and can climb aboard this icon which is the world's last wooden whaleship and learn more about the restoration work. The museum has created an interactive cell phone audio tour to guide visitors through this new exhibit.

Because the Morgan is a historic vessel all work will be done using historically appropriate materials and techniques, in accordance with the U.S. Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Historic vessel Preservation Projects.

More Photos of Mystic Seaport

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Thomas Oyster Company building which houses an exhibit about the oyster industry. Replica Lighthouse which has an exhibit about lighthouses inside it. Fresnel lens on display in the Mystic Seaport WelcomeCenter. Some of the 500 boats owned by the museum. The Cooperage shop.The new upscale restaurant, "Latitude 41 Degrees."
Thomas Oyster Company building which houses an exhibit about the oyster industry.
Thomas Oyster Company building which houses an exhibit about the oyster industry. | Source
Replica Lighthouse which has an exhibit about lighthouses inside it.
Replica Lighthouse which has an exhibit about lighthouses inside it. | Source
Source
Fresnel lens on display in the Mystic Seaport WelcomeCenter.
Fresnel lens on display in the Mystic Seaport WelcomeCenter. | Source
Source
Some of the 500 boats owned by the museum.
Some of the 500 boats owned by the museum. | Source
The Cooperage shop.
The Cooperage shop. | Source
The new upscale restaurant, "Latitude 41 Degrees."
The new upscale restaurant, "Latitude 41 Degrees." | Source

Resource Links With More Information

I hope you have enjoyed your pictorial tour of Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea and have been inspired to visit it in person. The following two links will give you all the information you need in order to plan your trip. The first is the Mystic Seaport Museum's official website. The second is the Mystic County Website which has information about other near-by places to visit, dine and stay.

I would recommend visiting the Mystic Aquarium and Olde Mistick Village if you will be staying for several days or a week.

Map to Mystic Seaport

A
75 Greenmanville Avenue, Mystic, CT 06355:
75 Greenmanville Ave, Mystic, CT 06355, USA

get directions

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