CHC Supports War of 1812 Bicentennial Exhibit

The Connecticut Humanities Council has announced the award of a $45,000 grant to provide funds for a bicentennial exhibit on the War of 1812 and its effects on Connecticut and the region. Scheduled to open just after Independence Day on 6 July 2012 at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, the exhibit will feature items from the collections of the partners on the project – the Stonington Historical Society, Mystic Seaport Museum, the New London County Historical Society, the New London Maritime Society, and the Lyman Allyn – as well as from other museums and private collections.

“The Rockets’ Red Glare,” will focus on important local events including Commodore Stephen Decatur’s naval squadron taking refuge in the Thames River to avoid the British, the bombardment of Stonington, the raid on Essex, and the effects of the British blockade on New London and the region. The 16-star American flag that flew over the defenders of Stonington will be featured in the exhibit. Funding is also being provided by the Coby Foundation of New York which focuses its grants solely on the exhibition of important textiles such as this rare flag.

“We’ve been working on planning and funding this project for more than two years,” said project director, Edward Baker, Executive Director of the New London County Historical Society. “We’re pleased to finally get this money lined up.” An earlier Connecticut Humanities Council grant covered most of the planning for the exhibition. At the same time, the Historical Society is publishing a companion history and exhibit catalog. Historian Glenn Gordinier of Mystic Seaport is the primary author of the book, and there are nine additional contributing authors.

Fred Calabretta, Curator at Mystic Seaport and guest curator for this exhibition, is excited about this show. “We don’t often have opportunities to address naval history at Mystic Seaport, so the chance to partner with these other organizations and share naval and militia stories allows me to focus on special interests of my own.” Gordinier is also thrilled to contribute to the project, “It is almost unheard of to have five separate organizations cooperating on a project of this scope. By combining our stories and collections we have created a major exhibit that will have a huge impact.”

The Connecticut Humanities Council grant, the Coby Foundation grant and additional grants and gifts to the New London County Historical Society will pay for exhibit fabrication and installation as well as for contractors designing and constructing special exhibit mounts and framing, audio programs and graphic elements. The exhibit will open on 6 July, 2012.