Also referred to as the Museum of America and the Sea, the Mystic Seaport is the largest maritime museum in the country. Established in 1929, the museum consists of everything from historic buildings to sailing ships and is a great place to visit if you are looking to learn more about the history of New England.
The Mystic Seaport is home to a number of different exhibition halls that tell the story of New England’s maritime history throughout the 19th century. In addition to the museum’s permanent exhibits, there is also an ever-changing roster of temporary exhibits to view, which offer rare glimpses into different aspects of the area’s history. From restored boats to vintage photography to ship carvings, the items that you will see on display in the exhibition hall all tell the story of how New England’s history is so intertwined with the sea.
One of the highlights of the Mystic Seaport is the Seaport Village, where you will be able to see buildings that were actual shops and businesses from the 1800’s. These were transported from all over New England to the Mystic Seaport, and then used to recreate a seafaring village, featuring a number of maritime trades. With everything from ship smiths and riggers to storytellers and museums, the Seaport Village really brings New England’s maritime history to life in such a vibrant way.
The Treworgy Planetarium
While you may not usually pay much attention to the stars above, these make a huge difference to sailors, who use them for celestial navigation. The Treworgy Planetarium was designed specifically for the Mystic Seaport, and is the place to go if you want to learn more about navigating by the stars and planets. There are daily programs held here throughout the season, and these will teach you how to locate and identify different stars, planets, and constellations, explaining how these can then be used for navigation.
There is nothing quite like a live demonstration to really explain how something works, and there are several historical interpreters at the Mystic Seaport that perform these demonstrations throughout the day. One of the most popular demonstrations is the one that depicts how the US Life Saving Squad would rescue sailors from a damaged ship, while the role players, dressed up in costumes, really add to the atmosphere with their theatrical performances.
Cruises and Boat Rides
There are many maritime museums around the world, but the Mystic Seaport is one of the few that actually gives visitors the opportunity to climb aboard a historic vessel and get out on the water. Whether you sign up for a water-front cruise, or pilot one of these boats yourself, this is a fantastic opportunity to explore the museum from a truly unique perspective and will give you an even greater appreciation for all that you see and learn about.
The Mystic Seaport is a popular museum, welcoming over 250,000 visitors each year. With so much to see and do here, it would be advisable to leave yourself a few hours at minimum to explore the museum, although many visitors end up spending the entire day here.