Smithsonian Maritime Wing "On The Water" All History, No Future

The family & I spent the day at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum. I was pleasantly surprised they had a small wing dedicated to American maritime history called, “On The Water: Stories from Maritime America”.

98% was about our country’s pre-Cold War maritime history & a couple of times the museum called us a maritime country.

It was mostly about pirates, paddle wheelers, old steam ships & WW2. The 80 yr old quotes & stories about WW2 was the best part IMO.

They only had 2 measly sections about the modern day Merchant Mariners, a picture of an offshore AHTS C/E & a display of modern ships but I know the vast majority, if not all of them are F.O.C vessels.

The worst part was the worst & cheapest display in the whole museum? A cheap glass display with newspaper clippinge titled "WHAT’S NEW on the water? Looked like something on display at an under funded public library. Pathetic. It was full of nonsense & recent screw ups at sea. Needless to say I don’t think the folks at the Smithsonian have high (or mediocre) hopes for future of the American maritime industry.

Can’t vouch for all of the models on display but the PCTC RORO is Pasha Hawaii’s Jean Anne. She’s a Jone’s Act vessel. So at least one of the models is legit…


Have you written to the displays curator to express your concerns?

I haven’t yet. I’m busy, still on vacation with only my phone to type on but I plan on it next week.

3 things I left out. They have a mannequin on display dressed like a college student or hiker with backpack, windbreaker, trail runners, travel/map book, cell phone etc. with a sign asking what does everything shown have in common? Of course it was all synthetic material made with hydrocarbons. A small display about lifejackets & a display about container shipping but I didn’t see that as being exclusive to the American mariner as much as it was to American consumerism. The pathetic glass cases with newspaper clippings stating what was “New In American Maritime” probably cost $200 & was the last display when existing the wing/loop. It was the worst, cheapest most poorly done thing done in the otherwise awesome museum.

I’ll send an email to the museum but I guess it would be better to send a fews emails to a few companies/organizations that traditionally lobby the gov/public to get them to donate something to the museum? Maybe one of the anti-Jones Act organizations got to the Smithsonian first & thats the reason they portray the present/future of the American Maritime industry so poorly?

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