Summer is upon us and we are prepared for another busy season. Spring was spent addressing a couple of long standing issues that we were finally able to attend to. After years of coping with an inadequate heating system by using supplemental electric heaters though the worst cold snaps, we are reviewing estimates on a new and larger boiler which we plan on having in place before summer’s end. At the same time we do that work, we’ll be making necessary modifications to supplement our air conditioning system that has also proven inadequate for our needs. We had a painting crew working six days a week to spruce the place up and deal with water stains from the damaged sprinkler system, a couple of other miscellaneous leaks, and normal wear and tear from eight years of operation. Jeff Strong’s Beach Haven Painting crew did a marvelous job on a truly monumental task. Just imagine how many things there are that have to be taken down, then put back up after the painting. As you can imagine, all of this work created a tremendous amount of dust. The painters personally cleaned up after themselves and Deb and I continued the clean-up as we set up new exhibits for the season. Through it all, we managed to keep the museum open on weekends, albeit with somewhat limited access.
Another area in which we are making major improvements is our layout for the annual fundraiser. We have replaced the old wooden fence with a new vinyl one, and have completely updated the electric service to it so we will not have to worry about tripping breakers this year. Just in case of rain, like we had last year, we have contracted for larger and more tents so that the entire outside area will be sheltered. These tents will all have side curtains to keep everyone dry. We have also added a wall oven and a commercial heating cabinet to our existing commercial refrigerator and freezer on ground level so that all of our food preparation and handling will be accomplished without having to run up and down three flights of stairs.
Dr. Delgado and his team from NOAA has set up the Robert J. Walker exhibit in what we once referred to as the Andrea Doria room. We are now waiting for the divers to bring in their artifacts from the wreck to put the finishing touches on this exciting new display. At the end of July, the temporary display in Atlantic City will be moved here and we will become the permanent home of the entire Robert J. Walker exhibit.
In the past year, we have received the donation of two sets of shipbuilding tools dating to the late 1800s, both of them originally used by New Jersey boat builders. One set came from Jean Allen in Delaware and one from Vickie Stewart in Nebraska. We’ve completed this display and it looks great!
In what has turned out to be a wonderful decision, we offered exhibit space to long time diver Kim Dixon and to Gene Peterson, owner of Atlantic Divers. Both have done a great job, and these new additions look wonderful!
A group of men from the Coast Guard Auxiliary have been given space in the USLSS/USCG room and have set up a very nice exhibit detailing the history of their group.
In a way of dealing with our problem with limited exhibit space, we’ve come up with an idea that is working nicely for us. Rather than picking and choosing which artifacts are to be displayed, we have made an arrangement with a couple of local restaurants. We are now displaying a wide array of our artifacts at Buckalew’s in Beach Haven and at the Old Causeway Steak and Oyster House in Manahawkin. Both restaurants have mounted plaques crediting us for the loan of these artifacts, and they tell us that it’s a big hit with their patrons.
As mentioned in our last newsletter, Gretchen and Deb continue with their collaborations on behalf of the museum. Inferno at Sea remains the best selling book in our gift shop, and their new book, Tuckers Island, is completed and will be released in August. Their first book signing will take place Friday, August 14th, from 1pm to 5pm at the museum; refreshments will be provided and both authors will be on hand to meet and greet their attendees. They did, in fact, return to Cuba for the Havana International Book Fair in February and by all reports were a big hit! Not only were they honored at the Book Fair, but they were granted access to more information about the Morro Castle, including entry to Cuba’s National Archives. Could an Inferno at Sea II be in their future? I have heard whispers about a new book being started soon. We’ll just have to wait and see what new information has been discovered.
Work on phase two of the shipwreck database continues at a good pace due to the diligence of a number of our volunteers and will no doubt be completed well before the end of 2015. As soon as it is added to our online database, we’ll start on phase three, which will entail the scanning and addition of all of the photographic images that we have available. We make no predictions on a timeframe for phase three, but rest assured we will continue at our best pace. New information keeps pouring in and Trustee Dave Swope is kept quite busy updating the existing files. He was nearly caught up, but then we received a donation of over two hundred volumes of the Steamboat Bill from Linda Elliot of North Carolina. It turns out that there is an incredible amount of new information in these publications and Dave will remain very busy for the foreseeable future.
Donations keep coming in. In addition to the shipwright tools from Jean Allen and Vickie Stewart and the Steamboat Bills from Linda Elliot, we have also recently received six nautical themed panels of reverse painting on acrylic by Paul Berner from the Nichols Family of Anchor Wines and Spirits in Surf City. Diver Rich Venuti also recently brought us a number of portholes from various New Jersey wrecks. Most recently, we received a very large collection of artifacts from the family of Capt. Hank Garvin, who passed away May 26th of this year. As soon as we can catalog and photograph this collection we will start to integrate it into our displays. Since I remain quite adamant that there will be no expansions or annexes to our existing facility, we are very lucky to have Deb, who is a master of the blivit, to find the room necessary to house these new artifacts.
Christopher Drew, our resident computer guru and accomplished diver, represented the museum at Beneath The Sea, the annual diver’s symposium held at the Meadowlands. This three day event exposes the museum to thousands of people in the world of diving, and the contacts made there are invaluable. Thank you Chris; your efforts on our behalf are greatly appreciated!
We have reached out to Beach Haven Mayor, Dr. Nancy Davis, in the hope that she would be able to provide us with as wonderful a group of college interns from Stockton University as she did last year; they were incredible. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we will be having anywhere near the number of interns as we did last year. On the bright side, we are lucky enough to have our regular corps of volunteers back. Museum Trustees Michael Egolf, Susanne Gilbert, Dave Swope and Jeanette Lloyd will be here along with Gretchen Coyle, John Schultz, Gini Molino, Rita Kuhn, Eileen Sappah, Samantha Ginsberg, Sabrina Barlow, and Nicholas Perello. We will also be continuing our Friday children’s program in conjunction with ReClam the Bay and Alliance for a Living Ocean, and will be hosting Sherri Paris’ Marine Science Camp for another season. Topping off our busy schedule, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center will be using the museum facility for its Monday afternoon programs from July 6th through August 10th. Please pick up a brochure or check out our website at www.NJMaritimeMuseum.org for additional information about our summer schedule of activities.
I’d like to remind you all that this year’s fundraiser will be held on Saturday, Sept. 12th, and will be themed, A Celebration of Beach Haven’s 125th Anniversary. We fine tune our program after each year’s event and have no doubt that this year will be bigger and better than ever before. We hope to see all of you there for good food, great auctions, wonderful entertainment, and – last but not least – an evening of fun and fellowship.
In closing, just another reminder that membership renewal postcards are now going out on a regular basis, and that we rely heavily on your continued support to move forward with our mission. Thank you very much, and we hope to see you soon!