Friday, March 16, 2007

Ship model experts reveal technique, history

On Saturday, March 10, "The Art of Ship Model Making," a special event held in conjunction with the current exhibition of the Addison's beloved ship model collection, Models as Muse: Roderick Buchanan, Christine Hiebert, Jennifer and Kevin McCoy, and David Opdyke, attracted both the curious and the practiced to two experts' perspectives on the delicate artistry of marine models.

Renowned ship model artist Erik Ronnberg, Jr. of Gloucester, MA joined R. Michael Wall, field expert and owner and director of the American Marine Model Gallery of Salem, MA to demonstrate the techniques involved in the creation of these fine artworks. Revealing his meticulous drawings, scrupulous research, and the hull in-progress for his latest project (a modern fishing trawler commissioned by the Smithsonian Institution of Washington, D.C.), Ronnberg entranced the audience by demonstrating the attention and skill required to produce a beautiful, accurate ship model - an art form whose popularity he fears is waning among those of today's generation.

R. Michael Wall guided a tour of the Addison Gallery's collection which museum founder Thomas Cochran (PA 1890) originally commissioned as educational representations of "America's rich maritime history." Wall described the various building techniques employed by model artists like Capt. H. Percy Ashley and the H.E. Boucher Mfg. Company, two artists whose works figure dominantly in the Addison Collection. Drawing on his years of experience in the curation, construction, restoration, and appraisal of museum quality ship models, he pointed out the distinguishing characteristics different modelers - including those whose work he shows in his gallery today - bring to their art.

Visitors fulfilled their curiosities by lingering to chat with the speakers and examining examples of Ronnberg's work currently available for purchase at Wall's gallery in Salem. To learn more about Erik Ronnberg, Jr. and R. Michael Wall, visit the American Marine Model Gallery's website at

Models as Muse remains on view through Sunday, March 18 after which the models will reappear on the museum's lower level for permanent display.

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