It's May! And that means it's the most beautiful time of the year at NFA. The cherry blossoms have bloomed so if you happen to be driving by, definitely take a moment to catch a glimpse of our beautiful cherry blossom trees. Progress continues within the museum and we're excited to share an update on a new exhibition we'll be installing - this display will be a new take on many pieces the museum contains connected to Norwich's maritime history. In the new maritime gallery visitors will be reintroduced to existing and new elements that talk about the long history of shipbuilding in Norwich.
The museum contains several ship models in its collection, the best of which is a scale model of the USS Confederacy, one of the largest ships built for the American navy during the American Revolution. The ship was built in Norwich and in addition to the full model, the museum also has a hull model of the ship. Both of these pieces speak to the history of the many carvers, carpenters, and shipwrights who all participated in making this massive 36-gun frigate and new interpretive resources will explore these stories further. Though the models themselves have remained in good condition since their creation, the larger of the models needed some attention to a very specific detail: the model's cradle.
It was evident that the ship's cradle was no longer suitable to safely display the model - it had largely deteriorated and because the wood wasn't sealed, the cradle itself was heavily warped. This seemingly minute detail was an important one to consider for the ship and in our search for someone who could create a new custom cradle, we were introduced to Lester Palifka, a master ship modeler and a member of the Mystic Seaport Museum ship modeler's group. For the course of a few days, the museum staff removed the model from its case and cradle, and Lester took careful measurements of the existing cradle. The result was an exact replica he made entirely by hand. To find something as specific as a new model cradle would be nearly impossible as only a custom-made piece would be able to fit the model to its precise specifications.
Slater Museum could not be more thankful to Lester and his talents for making this project possible - it's an important example of the fact that how an object is displayed is just as important as the object itself.