The Art of Trumpy Yachts exhibit at Maryland Hall

| April 30, 2016 | 1 Comment

Rumak III - launching (ME Warren) smallMaryland Hall for the Creative Arts (MHCA) will mount a major exhibition on the art of Trumpy Yachts in its Chaney and Martino Galleries, May 12 through July 15.  A Single Goal:  The Art of Trumpy Yacht Building will trace the design and construction of these distinctive wooden yachts from 1909 through 1973, when the Trumpy Yacht Yard in Annapolis, MD (Eastport) produced its last boat.  The exhibit will open to the public with a free opening reception on Thursday, May 12 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm. 

Using models, paintings, historic photographs, artifacts, vintage signage and original drawings by naval architect and yacht designer John Trumpy, Sr., the exhibit will bring the boat-building process to life as it documents the artistry of Trumpy Yachts, illustrating how these wooden vessels were custom-designed and constructed.  The exhibit will explore these distinctive yachts including their furnishings and finishings; celebrate the craftsman who built them; and underscore the importance of preserving the remaining yachts as historic maritime treasures.

construction of a yacht, Marion Warren SMALL-1The exhibit traces the history of John Trumpy Sr., who emigrated from Bergen, Norway, at the turn of the century.  John Trumpy Sr.’s father and grandfather were ship builders in Norway and upon his arrival in America Trumpy had already trained as a naval architect in both Norway and Germany. In 1909 he joined the Mathis Yacht Building Company in NJ as its vice president and naval architect, where he began designing several hundred wooden yachts and other vessels that would bear his name or his design imprimatur. 

Upon John Mathis’ death in 1943, Trumpy Sr. renamed the company, John Trumpy and Sons, as the next generation of boat builders–his sons John Jr. and Donald–became instrumental in the continuation of the business.  In 1947, Trumpy moved the yard from Gloucester City, NJ, to Annapolis, a prime location for boaters traveling up and down the eastern seaboard. 

In its Annapolis location–at 204-214 Severn Avenue–the Yard employed more than 130 craftsman who built yachts designed by John Trumpy Sr., to each customer’s needs and wants.  The yachts (or houseboats as they were sometimes called) were made of air dried wood–ranging from pine or Honduran mahogany to white oak.  Neither the boats nor the accoutrements were mass produced.  Furniture for the salons and staterooms were made of teak, as were the decks. The exhibit highlights essential elements that made the yachts distinctive–such as handmade patterns, the Trumpy “scroll” and the attention to detail each craftsman at the Yard brought to his role in the fabrication of the boats. 

Enticer Promo PhotoSigrid Trumpy, granddaughter of John Trumpy Sr., and Maryland Hall’s Director of Exhibitions, is the curator of the exhibition.  She is drawing upon her family’s rich historical archives and information and artifacts from Trumpy Yacht owners, restorers, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and other organizations and individuals as well as historic photographs from the Marion Warren Collection and Rosenfeld Collection (Mystic, CT).  Following its display at Maryland Hall, the exhibit will travel to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in fall 2016 with additional sites to be determined.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Maryland Hall will offer a variety of programming activities to extend learning and interaction with visitors.  A free “Trumpy Talks” Lecture Series will take place during May and June with the following dates and speakers: 

Thursday, May 19 | 7 pm: Donald Trumpy, grandson of John Trumpy Sr. who worked at John Trumpy and Sons, will share personal memories of his grandfather and recollections about his work at the Trumpy Yard.

Thursday, June 2 | 7 pm: Jim Cheevers, Sr. Curator, U.S. Naval Academy Museum, will discuss Trumpy’s production of boats for the U.S. Navy to support wartime efforts; Dick Hires, Professor Emeritus, Stevens Institute of Technology, will share insights into Trumpy hull model testing.

Thursday, June 9 | 7 pm: Pete Lesher, Curator, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, will discuss John Trumpy and Sons in the historical context of yacht builders on the Chesapeake Bay

Thursday, June 16 | 7 pm: Longtime Trumpy Yacht owner Dr. Jacob Deegan (Aurora #444) will share this thoughts on restoring a historic yacht and the distinctive elements of Trumpy yachts.

From March 31 through June 2, hands-on workshops for students from local schools and community organizations are being organized to help experience the art of wooden boat building.  On Saturday, June 3 from 10 am to 4 pm, Maryland Hall will host a community workshop called, Undoing the Puzzle of Lofting.  A full-color 24-page catalog will be published and available for sale to provide a historical legacy of the exhibition.  Maryland Hall is arranging for several Trumpy Yachts to be in Annapolis during the run of the exhibition with details to be announced.

Major sponsors for the exhibition include:  Annapolis Maritime Museum; Jeffrey Harris and Joyce Pratt; Earl McMillen III, McMillen Yachts, Inc.: Sandy and Bill Brock; Dr. Jacob Deegan; Four Rivers Heritage Area; Portside Framers; John Kent Cooke; Eric Horst, Bayport Yachts; In Memory of Roger W. “Pip” Moyer; Martin P. Sutter/Canim; Peg Trumpy Appelget; Antique and Classic Boat Society-Chesapeake Bay Chapter; W&P Nautical and the Templeton Family; and Watermark.

Founded in 1979, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts carries out its mission to deliver “art for all” through year-round performances, education programs and exhibitions.  MHCA is located at 801 Chase Street, Annapolis.  For more information, please go to or call 410-263-5544.

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