The MHN Blog is a companion to the Maritime Heritage Network, a not-for-profit, comprehensive website of maritime heritage organizations, attractions, and activities in the Pacific Northwest. The blog highlights news, activities, and resources useful to the entire maritime heritage community. All views expressed are the author's own. Opposing views are welcome.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

MOHAI Acknowledges Desire to Move to Maritime Heritage Park

Seattle's Museum of History & Industry, arguably the most venerated historical institution in the region, will begin negotiations with city officials on a move to South Lake Union Park, moorage site of the area's large historic vessels. Though the heritage community knew for months that MOHAI was interested in the move, and I reported here that MOHAI had made an internal decision to seek the move, the announcement yesterday was the first public acknowledgement of the plans. The formal negotiations will likely begin sometime next month, pending approval of a city council resolution giving Mayor Greg Nickels permission to pursue the negotiations. More details are available at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer website.

A MOHAI move to SLUP could have enormous impact on maritime heritage in Seattle. It is currently working with Northwest Seaport on a plan to save the schooner Wawona as an on-land display at the park. It is also a member of the Maritime Heritage Alliance, a steering group created as a result of the 2005 Maritime Heritage Task Force. MHA is charged with carrying forward the recommendations of the Task Force, including a solution to the lack of a major maritime history facility in the city and county.

What are your thoughts on the MOHAI move? Is it good for maritime heritage? Any pitfalls? (Note: I published the anonymous comment because it was thoughtful and threw more light on the conversation.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This concerns me, and has ever since I first heard about it. First, I don't think it's the best move for MOHAI -- they have the space downtown at the Convention Center, which I think would be better for a museum of Seattle history. Second, it negates any kind of maritime history museum, since the SLUP location is by far the best location for that.

So, the question is, what kind of museum will MOHAI be when it moves to SLUP? Will it be a Museum of (regional) History and Industry, a Museum of the History of Seattle, or a Museum of Northwest Maritime History? Sure, MOHAI has maritime resources, including the library of the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, but all of that seems to be by default, since no one else will take it.

I don't know if the PSMHS collections could be removed from MOHAI or not, but I'd like to see them removed, see PSMHS wake up and commit to a real museum of maritime heritage at SLUP, and see MOHAI focus on ALL of Seattle's history downtown. Everyone would be better served by this and all the stories of the northwest would be better told.

But my guess is that MOHAI at SLUP is a done deal and the northwest's maritime heritage and history will continue to be a runner-up in the history department.

7:15 AM


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