Flowers of the Ocean: A History of Seaweed Collecting in Newport

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Flowers of the Ocean: A History of Seaweed Collecting in Newport, the Newport Historical Society’s latest exhibit, is now on display at the Museum of Newport History.

Flowers of the Ocean shares details about the appeal, process and recent revival of seaweed collecting. “From the briny depths to the scrapbook page, seaweed fascinated naturalists,” explains Kate Duffy, the Society’s Buchanan/Burnham Fellow who curated the exhibit. “Collecting seaweed was a popular hobby in Newport during the second half of the 19th century.” By transforming tangles of algae into delicate specimens, collectors expressed their appreciation of the natural world. The algae they gathered and pressed became a medium for both souvenir crafts and scientific study.

Kate Duffy, a Buchanan/Burnham Fellow in Historical Interpretation and a PhD student at Brown University, is researching the curious world of natural history collecting in late 19th century Newport. Her focus is the rise and fall of the Newport Natural History Society along with its short-lived museum.

Flowers of the Ocean takes place at the Museum of Newport History, located in the Brick Market: Museum & Shop at 127 Thames Street, Newport, RI, and runs through October 2014. Admission is free, donations are welcome. The Museum opens daily at 10am.