The Gallery was founded by Rudolph Schaefer III in 1979 as a business venture to support Museum operations and to provide a venue to nurture the careers of emerging artists in the contemporary maritime art field. Many of the leading artists at work today got their start at the Gallery. It has also enabled a deep relationship between the Museum and the American Society of Marine Artists.
This was particularly so for my husband, Ron Druett, who was a proud member of the Society. Mystic Maritime Gallery was a home-from-home for him, his greatest favorite -- and justly so, because the Gallery featured 50+ Druett artworks, many in the prestigious International, which was juried, with strict standards for entry.
His first showing was in 1988, at the 9th International, with a painting of a whaleship joining the American fleet at Lahaina, on Maui, in Hawaii.
Then there was an evocative scene of the whaleship Tiger at dawn, which was shown not just at the 1989 Internationa, but also in an America and the Sea exhibition.
Whaleships were a feature of the time because Mystic Seaport had published a woman's journal I had edited (and which is held at the Museum Library), called She Was a Sister Sailor, the Whaling Journals of Mary Brewster. Other kinds of shipping were equally interesting, such as the bark Louisa Craig, which had been prominent in the trans-Tasman trade.
Other water scenes intrigued him, a specialty being his dinghy series.
There was also a stunning scene of the famous Otor-ii Gate at low tide, with people walking about the iconic structure, inspired in part by the crowd scenes of L. S. Lowry.
And so the years rolled on, culminating in his entry for the 29th International, Butler's Flat Light, which is located at the entrance of New Bedford Harbor.
Unfortunately, the Gallery has faced declining sales in recent years as art-buying trends have shifted and the demand for maritime art declined. The economic upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Museum to review all aspects of its business operations with a focus on sustainability. Therefore, after a great deal of deliberation, Mystic Seaport Museum has decided to close the Maritime Gallery.