Peter Stanford and Robert Ferraro, two of the founders of the financially troubled South Street Seaport Museum in New York City, spoke to museum volunteers on Saturday. They presented their vision of how the museum could be saved and revived.
Seaport Museum Founders Offer New Plan to Keep Institution Afloat
The founders of the Seaport Museum New York unveiled a new vision for the museum’s future this week, after months of watching the institution sink.
Peter Stanford, who launched the museum in 1967, said the museum’s board must fire President Mary Pelzer and return to its original mission of preserving historic ships.
Stanford, 84, no longer has a formal role in the museum, but he decided to propose a path forward after Pelzer put half the museum’s staff on unpaid leave in February. The cuts came as the museum was struggling to get its finances in order. The museum had already laid off at least five workers in February.
“They have no plan whatsoever,” said Stanford, the museum’s first president. “It’s just unreal. It gives you a headache.”
Stanford’s plan hinges on reviving the museum’s historic vessels, some of which have fallen into such disrepair that they are no longer safe to sail.
“[The ships] are the most dramatic thing we have, but they’ve got to be brought to life,” Stanford said. “You would be horrified at their condition.”
The 100-year-old Peking, for example, is coated in rust and needs millions of dollars of repairs before it can make a sea voyage, a source said.
Stanford and Robert Ferraro, another one of the museum’s founders, returned to the Seaport Saturday morning to discuss their plan with the museum’s volunteers. They are also urging the museum to offer more public programs focused on the waterfront and to cultivate an active corps of members and volunteers.