The International Small Craft Center opened on May 17, 2003, at The Mariners’ Museum. The 17,500 square foot facility houses a collection that features nearly 150 boats from 42 countries, and is one of the few truly internationally focused collections in the world.
The Center is oriented directly to a wide variety of audiences, combining elements of both exhibition and of open storage. Boats from diverse cultures and waterways are arranged among eleven thematic areas which visitors access by way of an elevated path. Broad categories such as Maritime Environment, Culture, Shape, and Materials help orient visitors to the great varieties of watercraft in the world. The categories of Conveyance and Sustenance highlight many different examples used either as a means of transportation, or for harvesting the riches of the seas.
Another section highlights experimental and hybrid boats, used solely for testing particular theories or that were built to serve one purpose and evolves to serve another. Two other sections feature boats used in Competition. A final section looks at the craft used for Surfing. A number of smaller boats from the collection are available for viewing on special shelves along the back walls. The Center comprises more than just boats, however. Visitors can go beyond the boats and discover more about the individuals who used them.
The Center also houses the E. Peter and Caddy R. Meekins Research and Reading Rooms offering access to information and archival form the Museum’s Library such as the Chris-Craft and the Arthur Piver Collections. There is also an area for conservation where staff and volunteers work on boats in full view of the public. The Center also features a 900-square foot space for changing exhibitions and boat related programs.
August 18, 2013
It was with great shock and sadness that we learned of the passing of one of the great benefactors to The Mariners’ Museum, T. Parker Host, Jr., at the age of 88. The patriarch of the Host family was deeply involved in the Museum for many years. In addition to serving as the chairman of the Board of Trustees, Parker Host made a number of contributions to the institution that have helped us become one of the preeminent maritime museums in the nation.
One of Parker Host’s great passions was the small craft collection, and it is in large part thanks to him that the International Small Craft Center now exists. “It was a real honor to celebrate the Center’s Tenth Anniversary earlier this summer and to honor Parker Host for all of his support.” said chief curator Lyles Forbes. “He was instrumental in so many aspects not only in the creation of the Center, but more importantly once it was open to the public. Mr. Host underwrote the conservation efforts of our Hampton One Design sailboat, the Alaskan umiak, a Spanish fishing boat, and at least a dozen other boats in the collection. He also funded acquisitions to the collection.” said Forbes.
Parker Host was also a major supporter of our exhibitions including Stationary Voyages: the Boat in Photograph and a bicentennial exhibition on the War of 1812, The Enemy’s in Sight.
“One of Parker’s great loves however, was his family’s sloop La Nube.” said Forbes. The sailboat was given to the museum in 2000, and was kept at Warwick Yacht Club for several years. “After we took it out of the water, we looked at a number of options for exhibiting the boat at the museum. It was too large to fit in the Center, so we did the next best thing.” said Forbes. Earlier this month, La Nube was installed out in front of the Center with a striking image of a Chesapeake sunrise as a backdrop.
For these and all of Parker Host’s many contributions to the museum, he was recently given the prestigious Huntington Medal. “It is certainly a well deserved tribute for all of Parker’s dedication, support and love for this museum. He did so much to help transform this institution into a world class maritime museum.” stated Forbes. “He will be greatly missed.”