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Long Journeys in Small Boats

BAS JAN ADER | NATHANIEL BISHOP MOSES BROWN | THOMAS FLEMING DAY | THOR HEYERDAHL | JOHN MACGREGOR | GEORGE WASHINGTON SEARS | DON & DANA STARKELL | MRS WISE-WOOD

Throughout the history of boating, people have set out to challenge themselves through taking extraordinary voyages, often choosing small boats, either to increase the challenge or to bring themselves closer to the element. These stories reveal something essential about our fascination with the water. Some of these voyages also sit at important turning points in boating history, influencing others and changing how we go boating.

 

Many people take to the water in small boats for sport or leisure, but some choose to travel great distances, in search of adventure, escape, or to pilgrimage to wild places. This exhibition explores some of the most important intentional voyages in small boats over the past two centuries. These stories have shaped our culture in many ways, from the advent of canoeing for sport to explorations of the vastness of the ocean through contemporary performance art.

What inspired a Scottish aristocrat to take a small canoe through Europe, when no one had boated this way before? What sustained a Canadian father and son paddling the 12,000 miles between Manitoba and the Amazon? And what was a Dutch-born artist in search of when he put to sea, never to be seen again? The boats they chose were often built or altered for the purpose, or scarred by the adventure. Along with words from books and journals, they give us glimpses of what drove these voyagers to go so far on the water, and what they found out there.