Ships of the Sea opens installment examining Savannah’s role in Transatlantic slave trade

HUMAN CARGO EXHIBIT

To honor lives lost and to recognize Savannah’s role in the African diaspora, the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum will display their moving installation “Human Cargo: Savannah and the Oceanic Slave Trade”through Feb., 2022.

“At the museum, our mission is to celebrate Savannah’s rich maritime history,” said Wendy Melton, curator and interim director at the museum. “Savannah participated in history’s greatest maritime tragedy, the Transatlantic slave trade, and to recognize that we are partnering with local artists to display a moving installment to honor those who suffered the journey.”

The museum’s installment will span the entirety of the reflecting pool located in their North Garden, and will feature representations from artists from three colleges in Savannah.

“Artist and SCAD Professor Chris Nitsche is installing a deconstructed slave ship that will be flanked with graphic sails created by Professor Rachel Green and the students of Georgia Southern University,” Melton said. “Professor Eric Clark and the students of Savannah State University will also showcase their representation of the number of people who were lost through ceramic sculptures within the waters of the pool.”

According to Melton, those forced on these journeys suffered harsh conditions, and many didn’t make it to their destinations alive.

“Researchers have estimated that for every 100 captives that survived the journey to the new world, there were 40 others who did not. In addition to that, there were a number of people who died in Africa and the Caribbean waiting for that crossing because the conditions were so bad there as well,” she said. 

Melton also said the museum has done over 20 years worth of research to discover the name of the ships who landed in the port of Savannah.

“We will never be able to document every single person that faced these tragedies, so to combat that, we made a list of the names of the ships that landed in the port of Savannah from the 1750s up to the late 1800s,” she said. “I just felt that it was really important to recognize that aspect of the Transatlantic slave trade history, and recognize that Savannah took part in it. We are all really looking forward to displaying this rich installment to the public.”

The opening reception will start at 6 p.m. on Thurs., Oct. 14 and  is offered free of charge. COVID-10 precautions will be in place. For more information visit shipsofthesea.org/events The Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum is located at 41 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.


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