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ruleRHODE ISLAND: THE HERRESHOFF MUSEUMrule

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The Herreshoff Marine Museum, One Burnside Street . Bristol . Rhode Island, is a focal place for sailors worldwide. The museum comprises a number of Herreshoff boats, historical and family exhibits and the pinnacle of sailing nirvana, the America's Cup Hall of Fame.

Perspective | Exhibits | Contact Info |

Perspective

To some people, freedom comes in the form of an automobile, but to sailors, sitting at the helm of a sailboat, be it a sailing dinghy or 12-meter, the freedom involved trumps that provided by cars and any other form of transportation going away. No roads, no stop signs, no crosswalks. It's you, the wind, an open sea and dreams.

P.T. Barnum, as he was better known, was born in Bethel, Connecticut on July 5, 1810. After his father's death in 1826, rural life faded as his ideal and he was drawn to the city lights of Brooklyn, New York, where he worked for a short time as a store clerk. His own fascination with curiosities strange and bizarre convinced him that his contemporaries of the era were likewise captivated and he set out to make collecting and displaying same his career. His reading of the sentiments of the times was dead on and people gathered in large numbers at the various venues he built, in particular, the American Museum.

If sailing were a religion, then The Herreshoff Marine Museum is Jerusalem, the Vatican and Mecca combined.

Every sailor worth his or her salt has heard the name Herreshoff, not once, but many times. Indeed, Herreshoff is synonymous with sailing in many circles by virtue of the designs the family has conceived. It's a name that equates to excellence in sailing vessels and generations have sailed and raced Herreshoff boats.

While boats, model boats, designs, history and sailing are the focus of the museum, it's also the repository of all things relating to the America's Cup. Write's Halsey C. Herreshoff, the current president of the museum, "The America's Cup is the Holy Grail of yacht racing. It is much more. This Cup, in competition for a period of 150 years, is the oldest and most distinguished trophy in all sport, outdating the World Cup, Davis Cup, Stanley Cup, Walker Cup, and all others of significance."

Hereshoff Bambino Yacht
A museum flagship yacht built by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company in 1904, Bambino still competes and continues to win races. Copyright © Herreshoff Marine Museum & America's Cup Hall of Fame. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
The Herreshoff family was intertwined with the design of many of the American yachts that vied for the coveted cup from the very beginning of the competition in 1851. In fact, their designs and participation in design kept the cup in America until 1983 when sailing went hi-tech. That's when the whole nature of the competition changed, and in this writer's opinion, not for the better. Instead of remaining a gentlemen's sport, the desire to win involved expenditures of millions of dollars in complex experimental designs, ship-building, rigging and promotion. Indeed, sponsors became the norm, making the classic racing boats look like NASCAR race cars, their sails festooned with advertising decals.

Nonetheless, the collection here is impressive and it's home to the America's Cup Hall of Fame.

The Herreshoff Museum section offers excellent specimens of the family's designs and harkens back to the day, not that long ago, when yachts were constructed of wood, not fiberglass, and the craftsmanship was elegant. Captain Nat Herreshoff's model room displays his famous half models and is accessible by appointment. The A. Sidney DeWolf Herreshoff Room chronicles the family's history as well as the birth and development of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company. There's also the collection of Herreshoff family portraits.

What many people, sailors included, may not know is that the Herreshoff family was involved in the design of more than sailing yachts. They also designed torpedo boats for the military.

If you're a sailor or interested in the sport, this museum is not to be missed.


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Exhibits and Attractions

The Hall of Boats
This exhibit features more than 50 classic Herreshoff yachts, ranging in style from the Sprite, a 20-foot catboat, the 52-foot Belisarius, Captain Nat Herreshoff's last design, built in 1938, to the Bat, a Herreshoff dinghy.

Nathanael G. Herreshoff Model Room and Workshop
These are faithful reproductions of the captain's model room and workshop from his home. There are over 500 half models used in the building of all of his yachts. These areas replicate Captain Nat Herreshoff's model room and workshop from his nearby home, Love Rocks. One learns here how the models were created and how the models were transformed into the Herreshoff yachts of the "Golden Age of Yachting." Also here are the equipment and tools he used to create his model. Because the models are fragile, access to them is by appointment only. The Workshop features all of the equipment and tools that aided him in his work. Because of the fragility of the models, access to the N.G. Herreshoff Model Room is possible only by appointment.

The A. Sidney DeWolf Herreshoff Room
Here you'll find a diorama of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, family photos, steam engine and fittings exhibits and several small boats.

Herreshoff Family Portraits
Oil portraits here portray the family of Charles and Julia Herreshoff, which hung for many years in the music room at Herreshoff House at 142 Hope Street in Bristol.

The America's Cup Hall of Fame
This is the permanent center designed to recognize who are deemed most important to the 150-year pursuit of the most prestigious sailing trophy in the world. From the museums's Website, here you will find: Plaques honoring individual stars of America's Cup competition, half models of most challengers and defenders; artifacts including spars, innovative steering wheels, tank test model hulls, brilliant photos chronicling the fabulous record of America's Cup matches; a video room with exciting presentations; and special exhibits such as the "Mushrooms" (support team), the 2003 Cup Races in Auckland, etc.

The Rebecca Chase Herreshoff Library
This is the primary research center and archive for the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company and the family. From the museum's Website: The Library houses a unique collection of Herreshoff material that is unequalled in depth and scope, and includes five thousand texts, three thousand images (glass-plate negatives, photographs, etchings, prints), an estimated fifteen thousand archival quality materials (rare books, publications, letters, drawings), plus video, film and audiotapes. The Library includes materials from important yachting and America's Cup collections, including those of the Herreshoff family, Briggs S. Cunningham, J. E. Roosevelt, Charles Moody, and Edward I. du Moulin, to name a few.

Contact Information

Address: One Burnside Street . P.O. Box 450 . Bristol . Rhode Island 02809-0450 Phone: 401.253.5000
Website: www.herreshoff.org/Home.htm
Admission: May 1 - October 31, 2004, Daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: Members Admitted Free, $8 Adult (21 and older), $7 Senior (over 65), $2 Student (with student card), Children under 12-No Charge; Group rates (per person) $7 Groups (5-10), $6 Groups (11-20), $5 Groups (over 21); The Nathanael G. Herreshoff Model Room is available for visitation by advance appointment.
Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 10 - 4:30, Sunday 12:00 - 4:30, Closed Mondays

Herreshoff Marine Museum Shop

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