Learn About Our New Exhibit During Museum Week

Legends of the Light

After months of planning, we are less than a week away from beginning the installation of Legends of the Light a new exhibit here at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. The landings of the staircase will display historic photographs and stories of the people who lived and worked at the Lighthouse. The Maritime Archaeology & Education Center (MAEC) will present more keepers’ stories and play host to a large selection of ship models from our collection. For more information on what you will see in this exciting new exhibit, read about it here.

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Members of the Collections Division carefully relocate a display of broken Fresnel lens prisms during exhibit preparation.

Our staff members have been busy preparing for the installation for the past few weeks. Every collections item that goes into the exhibit needs careful cleaning and assessment to ensure it is in good condition. Staff has also worked hard to paint exhibit cases to get them ready for display. Old exhibit signs in the Lighthouse are being removed to make room for the new exhibit panels. Workers are quickly readying the MAEC for occupation. The exhibit fabricators are completing off-site assembly of exhibit components to ensure a smooth and quick installation process. Continue reading

Join Us in Celebrating Sam Andrews

Around this time each year the Museum store prepares for the heavy tourism season. St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum Gift Shop staff work to ensure appropriate levels of inventory, to have the types of items people enjoy and to keep the store looking good despite the foot traffic which goes in and out each day. One person who does an exceptional job day in and day out is Sam Andrews. Sam is the Museum Shop Manager, making sure, among other things, that the almost 14,000 t-shirts sold annually are in the colors you want and the styles you like. Sam credits his incredible team for making his job look easy, but it is hard to deny how straight he keeps the ship steered when he is celebrating five years with the Lighthouse! Sam wants everyone to know that it truly makes his job easy when he has the beautiful Lighthouse at which to gaze each day and staff who maintain what he considers a “quality attraction” for all.

Lighthouse flip-flops.
Lighthouse flip-flops.

 

 

In honor of Sam’s anniversary month, come pick up your favorite t-shirt today, along with some Lighthouse flip-flops and homemade fudge as we make our way into summer. While here, give a wave to Sam and say, “congratulations!”

Author’s note:  Sam graciously declined to pose for the camera for this article.

 

Homemade fudge from our gift shop.
Homemade fudge from our gift shop.

 

Field Season is Right Around the Corner for Lighthouse Archaeologists

The R/V Roper, IMH’s 36’, steel-hulled, ex-shrimp trawler turned dive research vessel approaches the loading dock. She returns June 22 for another summer of research in St. Augustine.
The R/V Roper, IMH’s 36’, steel-hulled, ex-shrimp trawler turned dive research vessel approaches the loading dock. She returns June 22 for another summer of research in St. Augustine.

It’s that time of year again:  the higher humidity is returning to the air while temperatures rise both here on land and in the water offshore; in order to accommodate the busy summer season, the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum will soon be returning to extended hours; and our research arm, the St. Augustine Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP), is preparing to return to the field for another season of research in the waters of our nation’s oldest port.

We have a lot to look forward to this season: the Museum’s new research center will soon be complete which will have new conservation space, education space, and office space; twelve new students will be joining us for our annual field school in underwater archaeology, beginning June 26th; and the R/V Roper, the Institute of Maritime History’s (IMH) 36’ research vessel, is returning to serve as our main dive platform for the 2017 season.

The story we aim to focus on this season is that of the Anniversary Wreck, an as yet unidentified shipwreck located within a mile of St. Augustine’s shores. Discovered during 2015’s 450th Anniversary Shipwreck Survey, the site is proving to be an exciting project with a dense artifact scatter, the nature of which currently leads archaeologists to believe it may represent a merchant vessel, although the exact time period of the wreck and nationality of the vessel are still unknown.

Here a diver holds recently excavated stoneware sherds from the Anniversary Wreck. The sherds help narrow the time frame of the wreck to sometime between 1750 and 1820.
Here a diver holds recently excavated stoneware sherds from the Anniversary Wreck. The sherds help narrow the time frame of the wreck to sometime between 1750 and 1820.
The marine magnetometer (left) and sidescan sonar (right), that are employed during remote sensing survey.
The marine magnetometer (left) and sidescan sonar (right), which are employed during remote sensing survey.

This season will also include elements of remote sensing survey, where archaeologists employ a sidescan sonar (for acoustic imaging) and a marine magnetometer (for magnetic field detection). These instruments are used to identify potential new archaeological sites for further investigation, as well as to monitor those we have already studied, in order to observe how these sites change from year to year, and to look out for potential damage from things like storms, erosion, or looting.

 

We have a few weeks yet before the Roper and our new students arrive, so for the time being we are finishing up the last bits of yearly equipment maintenance and organization while making sure the final pieces of preseason preparation are in order. Soon, though, we will be back to 6 a.m. starts, and days filled with digging, recording, and hopefully, no small amount of discovery into the maritime landscape of our own ancient city. We can’t wait to share with you what we find.

An early morning sunrise from the loading dock on Salt Run.
An early morning sunrise from the loading dock on Salt Run.

Opening Soon! Legends of the Light Exhibit

Right now, the sounds of construction punctuate the Lighthouse grounds, as a new building takes shape. The Maritime Archaeology & Education Center (MAEC) will house offices, education space, a maritime archaeology center, and a new exhibit space. Behind the scenes, our Interpretation division is working with exhibit designers to create an engaging and informative exhibit detailing the history of the St. Augustine Lighthouse and the people that lived and worked there.

Maria Andreu was keeper at the Old St. Augustine Lighthouse
Maria Andreu was keeper at the Old St. Augustine Lighthouse

The new exhibit is entitled Legends of the Light with plans to open summer 2017. It will tell the stories of the lighthouse keepers and their families who called the St. Augustine Lighthouse home. Visitors will learn about the first night William Russell lit the light at the top of the tower. They will see photographs of the Old Spanish Watchtower and get to examine a model of the tower as it looked before the ocean claimed it in 1880. The exhibit also highlights the stories of Maria Andreu and Kate Harn, two keepers’ wives who themselves served as keepers at the St. Augustine Light Station after the passing of their husbands. Continue reading

A New Way to Get Involved – The Beacon Society!

The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is excited to announce The Beacon Society:  a new volunteer service group that will help promote the Museum’s non-profit mission through fundraising, advocacy, and volunteering. This group of philanthropic and service-minded individuals is replacing two of our previously active support groups called The Tower Club and The Guild. With a resurgence of interest to give back to the Lighthouse in a more donor-centric way, we have decided to revamp both of these groups and create The Beacon Society.

The Beacon Society primarily exists to support Lighthouse fundraising efforts and serve as an ambassador of the St. Augustine Lighthouse through service to the community. We are currently working on a few fundraisers including a special “Dark of the Moon” tour with light refreshments plus beer and wine as well as an educational bus trip to other lighthouses. The Society will continue to support existing events like our annual Luminary Night and Nightfest.

If you have always wanted to be involved at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum but don’t necessarily have the time during the day to volunteer, this may be for you! We will have an informational membership social on June 15th at 6:30 p.m. at OddBirds located at 33 Charlotte Street.

For questions or general information about joining, call Michelle Adams at (904) 829-0745.