One of the most interesting projects I had in Seattle was the distribution of artifacts and material salvaged from a demolished lumber schooner, Seattle's iconic tall ship Wawona. Wawona was broken down in 2009, when it could no longer serve as a museum ship. I was hired by Northwest Seaport, the ship's owner, to make sure that the artifacts and material removed during the recovery phase would serve to memorialize the boat and her stories for many years to come.
I developed an RFP-based process, which awarded artifacts and pieces of the ship to many PNW museums and maritime heritage centers, including Grays Harbor Historic Seaport, Anacortes History Museum, the Nordic Heritage Museum, and San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.
The greater challenge, however, lay in what to do with the 40 tons of ship's timbers, iron drift bolts, and other material that had been saved. I saw great potential in the enormous aged Douglas fir timbers, streaked with salt stains and rust. I reached out to many artists and craftsmen to repurpose this material, and the lion's share went to John Grade, a Seattle-based artist who had recently been awarded a commission to create a signature sculpture for the new location of MOHAI, Seattle's premier history museum.
It so happened that my client, Northwest Seaport, had directed me to do my best to place artifacts with MOHAI and to urge them to do an exhibit on the ship. However, MOHAI had already tired of Wawona during her long, public deterioration period on South Lake Union, and curators there were not enthusiastic about collecting items from Wawona. I consider it something of an end-run triumph that now the dominant object in MOHAI is a 60' spire made of Wawona's well-aged planking.
In all we extracted about 4000 linear feet of the 15" X 4" planking and many lengths of larger timbers. Working with John to salvage the material and watching his creative process as the piece was conceived was truly inspiring, and the product is something I am proud to have been part of.