Thames Street exhibit to mark new chapter for Museum of Yachting

Madcap, 6 Metre Class, sailing in the Museum of Yachting Classic Yacht Regatta
Cory Silken
The Museum of Yachting’s forthcoming exhibition will feature a diverse collection of Newport yachting and coastal scenes. The exhibit will include artwork done in different mediums from the 19th century to contemporary times to give both residents and visitors alike a look at the rich and varied history of yachting in this New England city.

The exhibition will be staged in the IYRS/Museum of Yachting Library, located in the Aquidneck Mill Building on Thames Street, and will open on June 1. The exhibit’s opening will coordinate with an important weekend at IYRS when students launch their careers into the workforce, along with their boats and student projects, at Graduation and Launch Day.

This summer’s exhibition marks a new chapter for the Museum of Yachting. In 2013, the Museum is leaving its location at Fort Adams State Park and will stage all exhibits at its in-town location on the IYRS campus. Since 2008, the Museum has staged exhibits and restoration projects at both the IYRS campus and out at the Fort. In 2012, the Museum reduced its footprint at Fort Adams by sharing the building with Sail Newport.

The foot traffic on Thames Street, which is far greater than the numbers reaching the Fort, and having the proper climate control and security in the IYRS/MoY Library to stage exhibitions were two key factors in making this move. The Museum has successfully staged exhibits in the library for the past four years, including last summer’s America’s Cup exhibit of fine paintings, rare books, silver, photography and historic memorabilia from the private collection of Cup winner William I. Koch.

'We are reaching many more people in town, annually more than four-fold greater,' says Terry Nathan, president of IYRS and MOY. 'We’ll continue to have a presence at Fort Adams with the Museum’s on-water event, the Classic Yacht Regatta, but the combined impact of IYRS and MoY, including through its world-class library, continues to be compelling. Our Board is very pleased with how this has evolved. It is as we envisioned when IYRS and MoY came together under a single operating structure.'

Impact on the community was heavily weighed when making the decision. 'This also benefits the community broadly,' said Nathan. 'Our move further grows and solidifies Fort Adams as one of Newport’s key on-water centers with Sail Newport playing host to even more public boating opportunities—both education and event-oriented. It also gives Sail Newport an opportunity to work with area High Schools and colleges to build more cooperative, on-water programming. The net-net is more activity and positive leverage for Newport Harbor, which benefits everyone.'

Sail Newport is a non-profit public sailing center that provides sailing programs for all ages. The organization not only runs on-the-water activities, but the added classroom space enables Sail Newport to expand its educational programs.

The Museum and Sail Newport will continue to co-manage the Classic Yacht Regatta (CYR) at Fort Adams, an annual event for classic boats that is held over the Labor Day weekend. With sponsorship from Panerai, this event has grown in stature and is now part of a regional circuit, the North American Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge. This year, the CYR will be held August 31 to September 1.

The IYRS/MoY Library, located in the restored Aquidneck Mill Building on Thames Street, has a sweeping view of Newport Harbor and its entrance from Narragansett Bay. One of the most extensive collections of maritime reference materials in the northeast, the library has become a valuable resource used by yacht designers, students, writers, documentary filmmakers, and others who travel from throughout the U.S. and Europe to access the collection. The library contains over 4,000 nautical titles, some 100 rare books, source materials such as logbooks and yacht club directories, and technical materials for IYRS students. It is open year-round to the public.

For more information about the Museum, visit MoY. For more information about Sail Newport, click here.