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Arts & Culture

Mystic Seaport Museum Will Use Federal Grant To Rehabilitate Historic Fishing Schooner

Mystic Seaport Museum
The L.A. Dunton

Mystic Seaport Museum has received two federal grants that will rehabilitate an ailing schooner, and save thousands of photographic negatives from further deterioration.

The grants were part of the National Parks Service's Save America's Treasures Program. The Museum was given a grant of $491,770  to restore the 1921 Fishing Schooner called the L.A. Dunton. Mystic Seaport Museum's Dan McFadden said the 123 foot vessel is one of the last surviving examples of the Grand Banks fishing schooners, which were used frequently in New England waters. McFadden said the L.A. Dunton also needs a lot of work.

“Over time wooden vessels deteriorate, it’s just a fact of nature,” said McFadden. “The Dunton needs a lot of structural work. It needs a new deck, new deck houses, really the whole hull will be addressed in many different ways to get her back to 100 percent.”

The second grant will be used to restore deteriorating negatives from the Museum’s Rosenfeld Collection of Maritime Photography. The collection is considered the largest archive of maritime photographs in the United States.

Credit Mystic Seaport Museum
This 1916 photograph, "Etrolle" is part of the museum's Rosenfeld Collection of Maritime Photography.

McFadden says there are negatives in the collection whose plastic mount has separated from the base, resulting in a condition called "vinegar syndrome."

“What happens is the plastic backing gives off acetate, which smells like vinegar,” explained McFadden. “What we need to do is identify those negatives in the collection that need to be preserved. And there is a preservation process where you actually remove the film element from the plastic backing and separate it. You can then digitize it, and create a new negative. It's technical, time consuming, and expensive, but it's what we need to do.”

McFadden says the $244,000 grant will restore and digitize 3,500 negatives from the collection.

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