WellesleyWeston Magazine


Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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Page 73 of 195

History Is Us Bringing Old Ironsides Home It's the year 2000. Stuart and Georgette Swan and a handful of friends have chartered Infanta, a small boat, to observe the international fleet of Tall Ships' entry into Boston Harbor. Saluting as they passed in review of Old Ironsides, many of the ships fire cannon to which Old Ironsides replies in kind. Unbeknownst to the Swans and their friends, the Infanta is a Maritime training vessel, which is scheduled to participate in the parade of Tall Ships. Fortunately Stuart knows a bit about what the ceremony entails and is able to corral the passengers to a "most reverent" salute as Infanta dips its colors while passing by Old Ironsides, raising them again following her lead. Taking several quick snapshots of Old Ironsides as they pass by, Georgette captures two spectacular images of the ship's broadside and starboard bow with her simple point-and- shoot camera. Today those photographs have been transferred to archival art canvas and are available for sale in the Swans' store, online, or even by phone. What's more, 10 percent of the proceeds of the sale of the pictures are donated in the purchaser's name to the USS Constitution Museum. For more information about the photographs, contact: Stuart Swan, 103 Central Street, Wellesley, 781.235.2225, www.stuartswanfurntiture.com. How successful is the exhibit? Visitors typi- cally stay three times as long as they do in the Museum's more traditional styled gallery, Old Ironsides in War and Peace, and they return for subsequent visits. What's more, visitors' donations to the Museum have increased substantially, reflecting their enhanced satisfaction. A new exhibit, 1812 Discovery Center, which employs the same creative approach, opens this summer. The Museum also hosts an award-winning online game, "A Sailor's Life For Me," and a popular smartphone App. These plat- forms allow those who cannot physically visit the Museum to have an engaging educational digital experience and allows anyone to explore parts of the ship that are not open to the public. The Web site also contains over 120 lesson plans for teachers. Many of these creative add-ons were recently published in the Old Ironsides Activity Book, which the Museum has made available free of charge to local schools and libraries. (They have also sent free passes to the Museum to local libraries to encourage families to attend.) "The Museum, through its exhibits and programs, underscores the 72 importance of maritime strength to international trade and transport, and to national security," says Wellesley resident Paul George, who currently serves on the Museum's Board and has the distinction of having served in the US Navy and of having applied to be the Commanding Officer of the Constitution. (He humbly adds that, "the Navy saw it differently—no command—but my interest in the ship and its history remains.") George continues, "It tells a story, too, of courage, of dedication, of commitment to democ- racy and freedom, all of which remain relevant today." William Martin adds, "With the world moving so quickly in ways we couldn't have imagined, it is very important to work in the other direction—to slow down, step back, and gain perspective on our place in the universe." The USS ConstitutionMuseum makes that backward glance possible—and fun—for all ages. For more information about the USS Constitution see www.ussconstitutionmuseum.org and www.history.navy.mil/ussconstitution. To learn more about the research behind the "hands on, minds on" exhibits at the USS Constitution Museum, see http://familylearningforum.org/. WellesleyWeston Magazine | summer 2012

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