Charting Your Course: Cutting-Edge Navigation and Seafaring

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Until the late 1700s, sailors and navigators had no reliable way to measure longitude at sea, costing time, money, and lives. When the British Longitude Act of 1714 offered an impressive £20,000 reward to anyone who could solve this problem, self-taught carpenter John Harrison began a decades-long pursuit of the solution. Unlike renowned scientists including Galileo and Newton, who believed the answer could be found by measuring the celestial movements of the clockwork universe, Harrison created a mechanical alternative: the marine chronometer. Charting Your Course: Cutting Edge Navigation and Seafaring explores the revolutionary inventions and advancements of Harrison and others, pairing Pequot Library’s 16th to 19th century manuals, maps, and atlases with manuscript workbooks in which students in Connecticut learned the latest principles of navigation. Together, these materials illuminate the ways that ideas, innovation, and geography shaped Connecticut’s culture and economy in ways still felt today.

This exhibition is supported by the Connecticut Humanities. It remains on view through May 11, 2024.

Mark your calendars for the following companion programs for adults:

Opening Reception, February 24 at 3:00 p.m.

Steering by the Stars: A Navigational Demonstration, March 9 at 2:00 p.m.

Navigation: Yesterday and Today, March 14 at 5:00 p.m.

The Searchers: Wayfinding on the Water in the Pre-Modern Age with Connecticut River Museum, March 28 at 5:00 p.m.

Sea Shanty Festival, April 4 at 6:00 p.m.

Meet the Author: Dava Sobel, April 25 at 6:00 p.m.


Check out the following children’s programs:

March Movie: Moana, March 23 at 1:00 p.m.


February 24
May 11
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Room Location
Perkin Gallery