LILAC Season Opens With Shipwrecks Exhibit May 25th


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Partially scrapped tugboats at Witte's yardThe summer season gets underway at the museum ship Lilac with the exhibit Great Shipwrecks of New York’s ‘Great’ Lakes and The Hidden Hulks of New York Harbor, on view through July 4, 2017. The exhibit opens Thursday, May 25 with a reception that is open to the public from 6 to 9 pm with a cash bar.  David White, Recreation Specialist from New York Sea Grant (NYSG) will share reflections on “The Future of Our Maritime Heritage.”

Great Shipwrecks of New York’s ‘Great’ Lakes was created by NYSG for the 2014 New York State Fair and has since traveled to other locations in New York (most recently Plattsburgh City Hall) as well as museums in Pennsylvania and Vermont. It features wrecks found not only in Lake Ontario and Lake Erie but also Lake Champlain, the Finger Lakes and others.  This is its first visit to New York City.

Components of the exhibit – which since its inaugural year of travel has been viewed by well over 50,000 divers, maritime history buffs, and shipwreck enthusiasts – include interpretive panels highlighting a total of a dozen shipwrecks in Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Champlain, the Finger Lakes, Lake George and the St. Lawrence River.

The study of local wrecks and hulks is highlighted in an added exhibit The Hidden Hulks of New York Harbor, curated by Lilac Preservation Project’s Museum Director, Mary Habstritt.  With contributions from local maritime historians and archeologists and artifacts from local collectors and museums, it discusses how the professionals who study wrecks go about their work and it looks at some of the famous ship graveyards of the Harbor and the hulls that have been uncovered during excavations like that for the new World Trade Center.

The opening reception marks the start of Lilac’s 2017 season.  The ship will be open regularly starting Saturday, May 27th. To celebrate the 84th anniversary of Lilac’s launch, birthday cake will be served to visitors on the 27th. Hours through October are 4 to 7 pm Thursdays and 2 to 7 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Lilac is the last steam-powered lighthouse tender in America and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Launched on May 26, 1933, she carried supplies to lighthouses and maintained buoys for the U.S. Lighthouse Service and then the U.S. Coast Guard until she was decommissioned in 1972.  Lilac is currently being restored as a unique vehicle for maritime education and community activities and is berthed at Hudson River Park’s Pier 25 (N. Moore and West Streets) in New York City. For more information, click here.

Photo: Partially scrapped tugboats at Witte’s yard on the Arthur Kill, Rossville, Staten Island, courtesy Raber Associates.

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