MIT Hosts Extensive Herreshoff Exhibition

The MIT Museum plans an ambitious display of the works of Nathanael Herreshoff and the Herreshoff Manufacturing Co., starting Oct. 18 and running through next spring.
MIT Hosts Extensive Herreshoff Exhibition Courtesy of MIT

Fans of Capt. Nathanael Greene Herreshoff — and what sailor doesn’t swoon to see one of his graceful designs sluicing along under a full suit of canvas — will want to pay a visit to Cambridge, Massachusetts, once sailing season’s done to take in “Lighter, Stronger, Faster: The Herreshoff Legacy.” The exhibition opens Oct. 18, 2018, at the MIT Museum and runs through May 1, 2019.

To put together this celebration of the innovation, design and engineering, the museum drew from its own Hart Nautical Collection, as well as from Mystic Seaport Museum, the Rhode Island Historical Society, the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the Herreshoff Marine Museum in Bristol, Rhode Island, and from private collections.

Nathanael Greene Herreshoff
Capt. Nathanael Greene Herreshoff Courtesy of MIT

Capt. Nat was one of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s early students, in the class of 1870. He and his brother John opened the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company in 1878 in Bristol. They went on to build eight consecutive America’s Cup winners and hundreds of other vessels including the first modern catamaran, U.S. naval vessels and the first steam-powered fishing boat.


The exhibit will include models, artwork, design documents and interactive displays. ““The digitization of our collection has been a massive, five-year effort involving photographing and cataloging over 25,000 nautical objects, including 17,000 plans and technical records related to Herreshoff,” says Kurt Hasselbalch, curator of the Hart Nautical Collections, in a release describing the exhibit. “We are excited to be able share this unique collection with the world.”

Amaryllis, one of Herreshoff’s catamarans, was launched in 1876. Courtesy of MIT

Workshops and other events related to the exhibit will be announced later this fall. The museum is located at 265 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA.