American Merchant Marine Museum
The American Merchant Marine Museum preserves displays and interprets historic artifacts and artwork related to the United States Merchant Marine Academy, the U.S. Merchant Marine, and the profession of seafaring. The Museum will educate and instill in midshipmen and the public an appreciation for the significant contributions made by the maritime services to the nation’s heritage, and in particular by USMMA graduates and personnel in peace and war.
AT THE UNITED STATES MERCHANT MARINE ACADEMY
The Academy has taken immediate steps to respond to the constitutional concerns related to a painting hanging in the Elliot See Conference Room in Wiley Hall.
The 10-foot by 19-foot painting, entitled "Christ on the Water" and also known as “Jesus and Lifeboat,” was painted in 1944 by noted marine artist Lt. Hunter Wood, USMS, to hang in the chapel built at the USMMA Basic School in San Mateo, California. The painting depicts an image of Jesus and merchant seamen adrift in a lifeboat, presumably after being torpedoed in the Indian Ocean during World War II. When the San Mateo campus closed in 1947, the painting came to the Academy, and was installed in its current location, which served as the Academy’s interfaith chapel from 1942 to 1961. The American Merchant Marine Museum has custody of the painting and holds it as a heritage asset.
When deciding on a solution to the concerns raised, the Academy explored multiple options to comply with the law while seeking to balance the interests of everyone in our community. Our priority is to ensure the Academy is a welcoming environment for all and that it respects all religions without endorsing one over any others. In light of this, the Academy has chosen to cover the painting with curtains, and will also install a plaque describing its history. The curtains will remain closed when official Academy meetings and events are conducted. This solution balances legal requirements with the concerns of those who have an interest in the painting.
We value the opinions of all in our community, and we are committed to making the Academy a better place.