New Mayflower exhibits

Photos by Pierce Harman Photography

One of the recent exciting changes at NEHGS has been the addition of an exhibit on 2020. Visitors to our headquarters at 99–101 Newbury Street have surely noticed the two major outdoor exhibit elements: a Wampanoag mother and child with a Wampum belt and a 1/12 scale model of the Mayflower.

Due to the delicate nature of these pieces, and the investment that went into creating them, NEHGS moves them in and out Tuesday–Friday during our open hours. As one can imagine, this is not an easy task. Upon delivery of the two exhibit pieces the staff here had to find the best method of safely moving and setting up the Wampanoag and Mayflower displays. After working with the developers and craftsmen who created the pieces, a plan was created. Staff was trained and the public has been able to enjoy these displays as long as weather permits.

With one person at the stern, one at the forward port, and one at forward starboard, the ship is lifted up into the garden and placed on the platform.

Each morning the weather is assessed and a decision is made about outdoor display of the exhibits. To move the two pieces outside requires three people. The ship is first rolled out to the center garden bed. From there lifting straps are threaded through rope cleats on the base of the display. With one person at the stern, one at the forward port, and one at forward starboard, the ship is lifted up into the garden and placed on the platform. Once in place, a ladder is brought out and one person sets up the masts, yardarms, and rigging. While this happens two people carry out the bench with the Wampanoag display. It is carefully arranged in the garden behind the west bench. Each location has specially built and mounted exhibit signs.

The process is reversed at closing and the exhibits are safely tucked away for the night or weekend. When not out due to weather, the exhibits are on display in the rotunda of NEHGS headquarters. I encourage our members who haven’t visited recently to come and enjoy what the thousands of people walking along Newbury Street this summer have discovered. The Wampanoag and Mayflower exhibits will be on display inside the rotunda at 99–101 Newbury Street through the winter, and back on outdoor display spring of 2020. The entire exhibit will be available for viewing free to the public from now until the end of 2020.

Matt Ottinger

About Matt Ottinger

Matt Ottinger is the Director of Facilities for American Ancestors. He oversees the management of our physical plant, including maintenance, environmental systems, and safety and security programs. Matt is also a key member on the 97 Newbury Street planning team. He previously spent eleven years at the Bostonian Society/Old State House managing facilities and preservation work. A preservationist and historian by education and training, Matt’s earlier experience includes historic preservation work in Boston, Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Minnesota.

3 thoughts on “New Mayflower exhibits

  1. Matt, Bravo to you and your staff for doing this so faithfully day after day! Quite an impressive step by step process you’ve created to insure that neither the boat, the beautiful Wampanoag mother and child, nor any of the staff, are damaged or injured in this process! I count myself fortunate that living in greater Boston, I was able to attend the original inauguration of this exhibit in the rotunda in April.

    1. Excellent work.. I found I am related to at least 8 Mayflower families, and I am so excited to learn about the Indian connection. Do you have a basic history I could get or copy?

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