Become a

About Us

Mission Statement

The Mariners’ Museum and Park connects people to the world’s waters, because through the waters—through our shared maritime heritage—we are connected to one another.

Water Connects Us All

A Message from our President Howard Hoege III

The mission of The Mariners’ Museum and Park is to connect people to the world’s waters, because that is how we are connected to one another. Across our nation and the world, we see daily reminders of the forces at work pulling communities apart. During these times, we believe our Museum has a powerful narrative to tell about community and what binds us together. We strive to provide an intellectual and emotional experience that is shared by generations, across cultures, and without barriers or judgment. It’s not just about displaying artifacts, but having our visitors learn and feel something, while awakening and introducing them to their maritime roots. It is through exploration of our collection and engaging experiences that we connect people to the world’s waterways. A steward of one of the world’s most extensive maritime collections, The Mariners’ Museum and Park is committed to the preservation and conservation of more than 32,000 objects and several million library and archive materials. We provide access to the collection through exhibitions, loans, publications, educational programs and online media. The Museum is proud to be accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and follows its standards of care to ensure the survival of the collection for generations yet-to-come. For an in-depth analysis of our mission and our commitment to the community, please read this blog.

Howard Hoege press photoHoward H. Hoege III, President and CEO

Our History

For over 90 years, the history of the ocean and its relationship with humankind has been told and displayed in one of the largest maritime museums in the world. In 1930, The Mariners’ Museum was brought to life by the shared vision of Archer Milton Huntington and Homer L. Ferguson. Huntington was son of railroad and shipping magnate Collis P. Huntington, who founded Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company just a few miles from the Museum. Ferguson, the head of Newport News Shipbuilding at the time of the founding, also served as The Mariners’ Museum’s first President.

To create The Mariners’ Museum, in 1930 Archer Huntington and his wife, sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington, used 800 acres of land surrounding Watts Creek in Newport News, Virginia. The property belonged to the Old Dominion Land Company, which Archer inherited, whose watershed had previously been used as a source of water for the City of Newport News. The first two years of development were devoted to creating and improving a natural park and constructing a dam to create The Mariners’ Lake.

Known as the Lion’s Bridge, the dam forming the lake provides a breathtaking view of the James River, as well as a family gathering place to enjoy the Museum Park. The beauty of the dam is enhanced by several fine pieces of statuary designed by Anna Hyatt Huntington. Four stone lions were mounted on the ends of the parapets of the dam in October 1932. Anna also created and dedicated a statue entitled Conquering the Wild. The central theme of this statue consists of a man engaged in a titanic struggle to subdue a rearing horse. Elevated on a massive octagonal Indiana limestone pedestal and flanked at four corners by life-size figures representing science, art, learning, and industry, the statue overlooks the Lion’s Bridge, the Park, and The Mariners’ Lake.

The first purchases of artifacts in any quantity were made in the early 1930s in New York and New England. Because the Museum was to be international in scope, the search for maritime material expanded throughout the 1930s to Europe, the West Indies and beyond. The Museum’s collection now totals approximately 32,000 objects, equally divided between works of art and three-dimensional objects. Huntington’s personal library of maritime books formed the core of the new Museum’s Library.

Today, The Mariners’ Museum sits in an urban oasis – the 550 acre park is now home to the 167-acre Mariners’ Lake and the Noland Trail – a five-mile shoreline trail with 14 bridges. Within the Museum itself you will find 90,000 square feet of exhibition galleries including the prestigious International Small Craft Center, and the award-winning USS Monitor Center. This state-of-the-art exhibition and conservation lab houses 210 tons of artifacts from the Civil War ironclad Monitor, which were recovered from NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary.

The Mariners’ Museum Library and Archives is home to nearly 110,000 books; 800,000 photographs, films, and negatives; and over 1 million pieces of archival material, making it the largest maritime library in the Western Hemisphere.

Board of Trustees

Senior Vice President East Region, Ferguson, Ferguson Enterprises

Keith Vander Vennet is responsible for delivering performance in market share growth and profitability expansion while driving company initiatives throughout the residential, commercial and builder segments on the east coast of the United States, while building upon the company’s foundation of world-class customer service.
Vander Vennet grew up in Newport News, spending many days at The Mariners’ Museum and in the Park. He attended Hampton Roads Academy, Hampden-Sydney College and Harvard Business School and has been with Ferguson since 1987.
Vander Vennet had prior roles in Baltimore, Orlando, Atlanta, Memphis, Newport News and most recently Toronto. In addition to being the incoming Chair of the Board for The Mariners’ Museum and Park, he currently serves as Board Chair of Hampton Roads Academy, and on the boards of Habitat for Humanity and the Virginia Foundation of Independent Colleges.

Executive Vice President, Huntington Ingalls Industries
President, Newport News Shipbuilding

Jennifer Boykin is executive vice president of Huntington Ingalls Industries and president of Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Virginia. Named to this position in 2017, she is the 20th person and the first woman to serve as president of the Newport News shipyard, which was founded in 1886 and has approximately $4 billion in annual revenues.

As president, Boykin leads the operations of Newport News Shipbuilding, the largest industrial employer in Virginia. She has responsibility for more than 20,000 shipbuilders who design, build and maintain the world’s most complex ships: nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and nuclear-powered submarines. This includes teams that perform aircraft carrier and submarine maintenance across the United States and globally. She also has responsibility for an industrial subcontract at the Kenneth A. Kesselring Site, a research and development facility in upstate New York that supports the U.S. Navy’s nuclear propulsion program.

A native of St. Louis, Boykin earned her bachelor’s degree in marine engineering from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and her master’s degree in engineering management from The George Washington University. Since beginning her career in the nuclear engineering division, she has held progressively responsible positions, including vice president of engineering and design, vice president of quality and process excellence, director of facilities and waterfront support, and program manager for the nuclear engineering division. She also served as a construction superintendent for the aircraft carrier program during construction of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).

In the community, Boykin is committed to workforce development and is a strong advocate for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs. She is a graduate of Lead Virginia and the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce leadership program. She is vice chair of Blueprint Virginia and serves on the Hampton Roads Business Roundtable’s executive committee. She is also a member of Greater Peninsula NOW, the Virginia Business Council and Reinvent Hampton Roads. In 2017, Boykin was appointed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe to serve on the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Growth and Opportunity Board.

President, Crofton Diving Corporation

A native of Norfolk, Va., Kenneth (Kenny) Crofton was raised in the maritime community. His father Juan F. Crofton founded Crofton Diving Corporation in 1949, and Kenny began working in the family business while still attending high school. After graduating, he began his career as a commercial diver. Over the years, Kenny has worked with his family to expand the company’s service capabilities beyond commercial diving to include marine construction as well as heavy lift and rigging services. These service divisions, now known as Crofton Industries, work together to provide comprehensive maritime services to the commercial and industrial segments of the Hampton Roads and Mid-Atlantic regions and serve as an employer to a team of over 125 personnel.

Kenny is a staunch supporter of the maritime community and serves on many boards that promote the Port of Hampton Roads. He is presently Chairman of Norfolk Festevents, an advisor to the board of Directors of the Norfolk Propeller Club, is a board member of the Virginia Maritime Administration and is a past board member for Nauticus in Norfolk, VA.

Kevin Fewster is a leading international figure in the fields of maritime museums and maritime heritage. He was the Director of Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG), the world’s largest and most visited maritime museum precinct, from 2007-2019. Comprising the National Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory, the historic clipper ship Cutty Sark, the beautiful early 17th century Queen’s House, the world renowned Caird Library and the recently completed Prince Philip Maritime Collections Centre, RMG attracts 2.7 million visitors each year. During his twelve-years leading RMG, Kevin oversaw the most ambitious expansion and renewal programme in the Museum’s 80 year history. From 2017-2018, he led a high-profile international campaign trying to save the collection of 5,500 objects recovered from the debris field surrounding the RMS Titanic wrecksite.

Before moving to Britain, Kevin had been the founding Director of the South Australian Maritime Museum and the Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney. In his 35-year museum career, Kevin was also Director of Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum.

In 2001, Kevin was made a Member of the Order of Australia in recognition of his services to maritime heritage and in 2019 was recognised as a Life Fellow of the International Congress of Maritime Museums. He is a Younger Brother at Trinity House (the world’s oldest lighthouse organisation), a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights, and a Freeman of the City of London.

Owner/Director, Bluewater Yacht Sales

A Tidewater Virginia native, Chris founded Bluewater Yacht Sales in 1968 after developing a proven set of business management skills as the president of a large manufacturer’s representative company. Born a waterman, Chris parlayed his personal and competitive passion for sailing and powerboat racing to unfalteringly advance Bluewater Yacht Sales through strong and weak economies to where the company is currently positioned 40+ years later – one of the most successful yachting businesses in the United States.

Even though Chris has assembled an impressive team of sales, service and support staff to run daily operations, he is still very involved with the Bluewater operations. However, he has more time these days to pursue other interests as well. He serves on several executive boards, and is deeply involved with the boating industry and community at large. His passion for boat racing and automobile racing add to his many achievements. Together, the Bluewater Team of Chris and his younger brother Earle enjoyed a calling to race 2.5 and 7-litre hydroplanes – winning seven world and national titles. Chris and Team Bluewater have also enjoyed being on the leaderboard of some of the East Coast’s most notable sportfishing tournaments thanks to being equipped with highly skilled crews and some of the industry’s best performing boats from the brands Bluewater has represented over the years such as Viking Yachts.

In running their own and showcasing the various boating brands that the Halls have sold in Bluewater’s spanning history, they formed enduring relationships with almost everyone that had a hand in the construction of the world’s finest boats. From the many who toiled tirelessly behind the scenes to Viking’s pioneering Healy family, the Halls’ desire to have an entrenched understanding of every aspect of boat construction, performance and innovations, resulted in personal relationships that provide Bluewater customers with unparalleled access to- and support from their motoryacht and sportfish brands of choice.

Through old fashioned determination, Chris has ensured through the decades, that Bluewater Yacht Sales is synonymous with superior product and friendly service. Now a multi-faceted and wildly successful group of operations, the Bluewater Network employs the same hands-on approach that Chris has put forth from Day 1 – always go the extra mile to ensure the company only represents the finest brands and that a customer’s boat stands out in a crowded market.

Chris and his wife Judy call Hampton, Virginia, home and have enjoyed sharing the boating lifestyle with their children and their families. Son Chris Jr. is a member of Bluewater’s management team and daughter Kathy is a college professor in Abu Dhabi. Chris and Judy enjoy spending their free time cruising the nearby waters of the Chesapeake Bay estuary, and extended trips along the Mid-Atlantic and beyond.

President and CEO, Hudgins Contracting Corporation

Bio coming soon

Tampa Bay Pilot

Originally from Queens, New York, Carolyn graduated from the US Merchant Marine Academy in 1986 and went to sea on US flag vessels for several years, receiving her unlimited Masters license in 1993. In 1995 she was accepted into the Tampa Bay Pilots training program, the first woman in Florida to do so. She has served as co-manager and training coordinator of TBPA, Secretary of the Florida Harbor Pilots Association, and Chair of NAVSAC. She has been the Chair of the Florida Board of Pilot Commissioners since 2016, has recently been elected Chair of the newly reorganized National Navigation Safety Advisory Council, and sits on the board of First 10 Forward, a non-profit benefitting girls and women pursuing non-traditional careers. She has also been a guest instructor at MITAGS and MPI, and is an active mentor with the Women Offshore Foundation.

Carolyn is married to Dave Fath, a 1986 Maine Maritime grad and Lake Charles Pilot. When not piloting ships, they can often be found somewhere on Tampa Bay on their 32’ Legacy trawler, On One, taking pictures of ships.

President and CEO, W. M. Jordan Company, Inc.

Mr. Lawson began his career with W. M. Jordan Company as a Field Engineer in 1975 after graduating from Virginia Tech with a BS in Geophysics. Under his leadership, W.M. Jordan Company has become one of the largest Construction Managers in Virginia, with annual revenues of $500 million dollars and a ranking in Engineering News Record’s Top 400 Contractors in the United States for the past 29 years.

He is married to Paige and resides in Newport News with his 19 year old son, Taylor; 18 year old daughter, Tess; and 15 year old son, Jack. In his leisure time, he enjoys boating, college football, golfing, skiing, art and history.

Mr. Lawson is the Chairman for Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, Fort Monroe Authority, Christopher Newport University’s $42 million Comprehensive Campaign, and the Virginia Kappa Alumni Corporation, Virginia Tech Chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon. He currently serves on the board of TowneBank, Myers-Lawson School of Construction at Virginia Tech, CEO Roundtable, and the Virginia Tech Foundation. He is the Past Rector of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, Past Chairman of the Mariners’ Museum, Virginia Economic Development Council and was Co-Chair for the Virginia Tech $1 Billion Comprehensive Campaign.

Founder of Earl Industries, CEO of Fairlead

Since founding the company in 1998, Jerry Miller has guided the growth of The Miller Group and its affiliated companies as Owner and CEO. A 1977 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, he also served seven years as a Surface Warfare Officer. Jerry co-founded Earl Industries in 1985 and purchased the company outright in 1989 leading the company through many years of success and ultimately to its sale to General Dynamics in 2012. Over this period he acquired, integrated, and operated companies in many various business and markets including information technology, data mining, defense technology systems, and commercial real estate in the Tidewater area. In 2012 he sold the three ship repair divisions to General Dynamics and organized the manufacturing and power and controls division of Earl Industries into Fairlead and serves as Chief Executive Officer.

Vice President for Operations & Engineering for Smithfield Food

Mr. Morris currently serves as the Vice President for Operations & Engineering for Smithfield Foods. He and his wife have visited the museum, they live in Riverside and are very eager to engage and be involved with The Mariners’ Museum.

Mr. Morris is a graduate from Texas A&M University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He has served the meat industry for 43 years, as Plant Engineer with Owens Country Sausage, Vice President Engineering for Smithfield Packing and Vice President Operations for Smithfield and Gwaltney during his first 17 year tenure at Smithfield Foods. He rejoined Smithfield Foods in 2004 after nine years with ConAgra Foods where he was the Senior Vice President of Manufacturing for the Processed Meats Group. His current responsibilities include Operations and Engineering oversight for Global Smithfield, including all plant operations worldwide.

Chief Operating Officer, S&P Global Ratings

Tina Morris is Chief Operating Officer for S&P Global Ratings. In her role, she is responsible for leading the data, operations, in-business control and Lean management teams, as well as transformational programs such as Simplify. Tina is a member of the Ratings Executive Committee.

Most recently, Tina was Global Practice Leader for U.S. Public Finance (USPF) and Global Structured Finance. Before that, she was the Global Head of Ratings Operations, where she was responsible for driving strategic execution for the analytic business groups with a focus on operational planning and process transformation, efficiency and effectiveness initiatives, and integrating business workflow with services and solutions. Tina has a passion for driving results and building cross-functional teams that solve operational and execution challenges.

Before joining S&P Global, Tina served for seven years as an Officer in the U.S. Army. She held a series of leadership positions in the Army, including Force Protection Plans and Operations Officer for the U.S. Army Pacific Command and Commander of the 25th Military Police in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

Executive Director, American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) Foundation

The ABYC Foundation announced Margaret Podlich has been hired to serve as executive director. The ABYC Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC), focused on providing resources that create educational and lifelong career opportunities to current and aspiring marine service technicians.

“I can’t imagine a more perfect person to be the foundation’s first executive director,” said ABYC president John Adey. “The ABYC Foundation has some heavy lifting coming up if we hope to move the needle on the population of qualified technicians and Margaret is our best chance of success. The ABYC board of directors and I are very proud to make this announcement.”

Podlich retired as president of BoatU.S. in 2016 and has since been consulting in the industry. Most of her career has been working and educating on boating issues, from environmental and safety topics to helping make smarter boating policies.

Mayor, City of Newport News

Bio coming soon

Rev. Dr. Kevin G. Swann is the Senior Pastor of Ivy Baptist Church in Newport News, Virginia where he began his service in 2006. Pastor Swann has an earned Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree (both in Counseling) from Old Dominion University. He also has an earned Doctor of Ministry Degree from South Florida Theological Seminary. Dr. Swann has received two honorary Doctorate degrees from St. Thomas Christian College and Canaan Theological Seminary. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Religious Studies Department at Hampton University.

In 2007, Dr. Swann co-founded and currently is the co-host of the “Pastor’s Study,” a weekly radio broadcast that airs on WHOV 88.1FM, I-Heart Radio and on Sirius/XM. In 2008, Dr. Swann founded Kevin Swann Enterprises a non-profit faith-based organization that provides services to underprivileged youth and adults in the Southeastern, VA area.

Shareholder and Secretary of the law firm of Jones, Blechman, Woltz & Kelly, P.C.

Mr. Sheild has practiced law with Jones, Blechman, Woltz & Kelly, P.C., since 1969. He previously served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Peninsula Region Bank Board for RBC Centura Bank from 1999 to 2003, and was a member of the Board of Directors of First Coastal Bank from 1997 to 1999, before it was acquired by Centura Bank. Mr. Sheild was formerly Chairman of Christopher Newport University School of Business Board of Directors.

Mr. Sheild has been active in many community organizations, and has been Chairman of the following Boards on the Virginia Peninsula, to include The United Way of the Virginia Peninsula, The United Way-Campaign of the Virginia Peninsula, the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, Virginia International Terminals, Inc., Riverside Behavioral Center Hospital, Peninsula Family Services/Travelers Aid, Virginia Living Museum, and WHRO Public Broadcasting Foundation.

He also has served on Boards for the two schools he attended, Virginia Episcopal School and Washington and Lee University. He received the award as the “Distinguished Citizen for the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce” for the year 2000, the NCCJ Humanitarian Award in 2004, the Colonial Virginia Council Boy Scouts of America 2013 Citizenship Award, and the 2014 Distinguished Alumnus Award from Washington & Lee University.

Currently he is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Virginia Company Bank and Riverside Behavioral Center Hospital.

Contact Us

Not sure who you need to talk to? No problem! Contact us at our main number and we will be happy to assist you.

General Information
(757) 596-2222

Museum & Park Security
(757) 591-7777

After Hours Security
(757) 254-2144

Donation & Prize Request

If you would like to request a donation or prize for your fundraiser, please use our online form. All requests for donations and prizes to support your fundraiser or event must be submitted through this form by the 10th of the month prior to your event or request date. Donations are processed once a month for the following month (for example, if your event is in May, submit your request by April 10). Requests made ahead of time will still be processed only the month before the donation is due. Donations and prize packets will only be issued to non-profit organizations or organizations hosting fundraisers benefiting the local community. Have questions? Email

Use the online form here

Our Leadership

Howard H. Hoege III
President & CEO

Lyles Forbes
VP, Collections & Chief Curator

Allison Dressler
Chief Financial Officer

Department Contacts


Sara Weatherill
Director of Membership and Guest Relations
(757) 591-7715

Nick Onesty
Membership Coordinator
(757) 591-7740

Individual Philanthropy

Luisa A. Vázquez-López
Senior Director of Advancement
(757) 591-7705

Olivia Harding
Stewardship Coordinator
(757) 591-7730


Sabrina Jones
Director of Strategic Partnerships
(757) 591-7708

Tina Gutshall
Grants Administrator
(757) 591-7789


Beth Heaton
Manager of Volunteer and Internship Program
(757) 591-7712

Chris-Craft Archives

(757) 591-7785

Museum Park, Noland Trail & The Mariners’ Lake

(757) 591-7722

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact us and we will be happy to assist you.