On May 20th, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History opened a new permanent exhibition, On the Water. While I haven’t had the chance to visit the museum, I’ve spent some time on the companion website and all I can say is that it really should be called MaritimeHistoripedia!
From the museum’s press release:
“The maritime influence on American history is one of the most compelling chapters in the national story,” said Museum Director Brent D. Glass. “‘On the Water’ will transport visitors to places they have never been, allowing them to experience life at sea through the experiences of real people and objects from one of the Smithsonian’s oldest collections.”
And from the museum’s website:
Marine transportation and waterborne commerce underlie American history like a strong and steady ocean current. Maritime trade established major cities, created connections between people and places and opened the continent. Visitors to this new permanent exhibition will explore life and work on the nation’s waterways, discovering the stories of whaling crews, fishermen, shipbuilders, merchant mariners, passengers, and many others. From 18th-century sailing ships, 19th-century steamboats and fishing craft to today’s mega containerships, the exhibition will reveal America’s maritime connections through objects, documents, audiovisual programs, and interactives. Visitors will discover the continuous and significant role maritime activity has played in American lives.
If you enjoy reading the Sea-Fever blog, you’re going to love exploring On the Water. But make sure you’re wearing you Internet PFD, because you could drown in the depth of information anchored there. Things are organized by period:
- 1450-1800 Living in the Atlantic World
- 1800-1850 Maritime Nation
- 1870-1969 Fishing for a Living
- 1820-1940 Inland Waterways
- 1870-1969 Ocean Crossings
- 1917-1945 Answering the Call
- Present Day Modern Maritime America
As well as by theme:
You can also search the museum’s vast maritime collection filtered by keywords and eras that reflect National Standards for U.S. History, Grades 5-12. Video and audio clips are extensively and effectively used throughout the website and there’s some great age appropriate learning resources available for educators and families too.
One of my favorite things about On the Water is the way they’ve create a mash-up of several popular social media websites to engage and enlist visitors in adding to America’s rich maritime story. Visitors are invited to upload photos to Flickr.com and post them to the OTW snapshots group which is linked to the below Google Map.
On the Water is a fantastic website for anyone interested in America’s rich maritime heritage. Take the plunge, the water’s great.
YouTube – Smithsonian goes On the Water
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