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Whats new in the Museum?

Work done in the Sue Lemmon Memorial Library allows the library to finally look finished, with artifacts and photos properly hung, some finishing work done on the pillars and bricked up windows and a paint job on some sorely needed areas.

You can now see in the library, in addition to all the print materials, two oil paintings done by Mare Island employees. One, a sailing ship with its sails billowing in the wind, was painted by Valdimir Shkurkin, who was born in Northern China and was educated at a military school in Siberia and at the school of Fine Arts in Kiev, Russia. He fled Russia to escape the revolution and settled in Seattle where he painted murals in many public buildings. In 1938 he came to San Francisco and painted murals in the San Francisco and Brazilian pavilions at the World’s Fair. During WWII, Shkurkin came to Mare Island and worked as a painter in Shop 71 until his retirement in 1963. He died in Vallejo in 1990. The other oil painting is of a large ship, probably a cruiser, in dry dock and it was painted by Vandre in 1941. We know nothing of this artist except that he worked on the island. This painting often draws the most attention, though Shkurkin is much better known in the art world.

There are also six architectural drawings of homes on Mare Island, all of which still exist, and a photo of a pen and ink drawing of the chapel by Dan Harrison. Most striking is a huge photo of a submarine wolf pack from WWII with the foremost sub appearing to have some damage in front of her dive planes. In addition to the re-decoration , the library now has acquired all the materials from the Base Historian’s Office and is in the process of cataloging them. Typical of the enormity of the task is that there are more than 500 Topley photos from the turn of the 20th Century of Vallejo and Mare Island. We also have Grapevines- bound, on microfiche and loose copies. The chaplain’s logs have been cataloged and portions of Farragut’s log are also here. There are hundreds of folders on ships to be cataloged and drawers of maps and, at this point, unidentified materials which need to be sorted and cataloged.

plaquesTom Cosso, our incredible model maker, has made two plaques with the seals of all the nuclear submarines built at Mare Island with the date of their launching on a small plate underneath. These plaques are hung over the case with the models of the submarines. A special thanks to Max and Josh Hunter of Western Dovetail who donated the wood for this project.

The control room of the Mariano G. Vallejo is well under way. The consoles are placed and the overhead has been built so you get the feel of actually being in the enclosed space of a submarine. The periscope has been weighed (1775 lbs.) and the next project it to install it in the control room. The yoke to accomplish that task has been located. A platform and stairs are being built above the control room so that you will be able to view the PBR (patrol boat river) when it returns from Sonoma in November and is placed in the museum next to the control room. If you want to see precision, you need to come and watch the men on the construction crew working.

The PBR from Small Boat Unit XI is undergoing renovation. Rotted wood in the interior and the decks are being repaired. Paint is being scraped in preparation for a new paint job, so she will be gleaming when she appears with the Traveling Vietnam Wall and then takes her place in the museum. One of the major liabilities of the museum is that it leaks like a sieve when the winter rains come. Aluminum roasting pans, plastic buckets and jars, and a handy mop are essential during that season. Presently the 844 panes of glass on the roof are being cleaned; the old caulk (now dried powder mixed with lots of dirt) is being removed as is the metal stripping around each pane. The windows are being re-caulked (1.5 tubes of caulk per pane) and new metal stripping is being installed. Hopefully by the beginning of the next rainy season, patrons will be able to visit the museum without running the obstacle course of pans, jars and buckets used to catch the water. New in the displays is a poster of a Navy nurse which was widely used during WWII. The poster was donated by Mari Lottes Bruckman whose mother served as the model for the poster. Her mother had dated the illustrator Jon Whitcomb who was commissioned by the Navy to do a series of posters during the war and had talked about the poster for years and Bruckman was able to show her mother the poster just s few months before her death in 2008. Her mother’s original copy had disintegrated in storage. When Bruckman and her fiancé visited our Museum and saw a nurse’s uniform similar to the one her mother had worn, they decided they needed to get a copy for us. The copy presently in the Museum was obtaind through a museum at the University of North Carolina.

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