Lighter, Stronger, Faster: The Herreshoff Legacy

September 6, 2018

On view October 18, 2018 through May 1, 2021

CAMBRIDGE, MA, September 6, 2018 – The MIT Museum will present Lighter, Stronger, Faster: The Herreshoff Legacy, an exhibition that celebrates the spirit of innovation by examining the unparalleled impact on marine design and engineering of Nathanael Greene Herreshoff and the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company.

The Herreshoff legacy will be brought to life with objects drawn from the museum’s renowned Hart Nautical Collection, and from many other sources: Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic, CT; Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence, RI; US Naval War College, Newport, RI; Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL; the Herreshoff Marine Museum, Bristol, RI; and private collections.

One of MIT’s earliest students, N. G. Herreshoff (MIT Class of 1870) in partnership with his brother John created an extraordinary company in 1878 that built eight consecutive America’s Cup winners and hundreds of other highly regarded vessels, including the first modern catamarans, the first torpedo boats for the U.S. Navy, and the first steam-powered fishing vessels in the U.S.

The Herreshoff Manufacturing Company (HMCo) was a famous enterprise, which set new standards for the boatbuilding industry in design, quality construction, and manufacturing efficiency that are still impressive today. HMCo’s innovative design, engineering and shrewd business acumen were closely watched by the public, press and competitors.

“MIT has been producing leaders in technology and innovation for more than 150 years, and it’s wonderful for us to be able to bring to the public at last a fitting tribute to the life-work of one of our earliest and greatest innovators.” said John Durant, The Mark R. Epstein (Class of 1963) Director of the MIT Museum.

The exhibition will include exceptional models, art works, and historical documents associated with HMCo’s breakthrough designs, together with a unique digital design visualization experience at which visitors can interact directly with the HMCo legacy.

Online Collections Portal
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Museum will be launching a completely new digital collections access portal through which the entire Herreshoff archive will be freely available online.

“The digitization of our collection has been a massive, five-year effort involving photographing and cataloging over 25,000 nautical objects, including 17,000 plans and technical records related to Herreshoff.” explained Kurt Hasselbalch, Curator, Hart Nautical Collections. “We are excited to be able share this unique collection with the world.”

Workshop and Programming
In connection with the exhibition, a workshop on nautical engineering will be offered in which participants design, build, and test their own model boats, using historic techniques and modern technologies such as computer-aided design. Related public programming will be announced in the fall.

Exhibition Support
Major Support provided by We Are Alexander.
Contributing Support provided by Ulf B. Heide ('60) and Elizabeth Heide, The Britton Fund, in memory of Charles S. Britton II, Founder Tartan Marine Corporation, and Anonymous.
Additional Support provided by The Gregory Foundation Trust, Anonymous, and the Council for the Arts at MIT.

About the MIT Museum
The MIT Museum presents engaging exhibitions, robust programs, and lively events. The Institute’s past achievements are celebrated through the Museum’s extensive and unique collection, while MIT’s current research, innovation, and design provide a catalyst for exhibition themes and stories. The Museum offers a wide range of programs that appeal to audiences ranging from middle-school students to adults, including the annual Cambridge Science Festival. For more information, visit


Visitor Information:

MIT Museum
265 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139 USA
Phone: 617-253-5927

Open daily 10 PM – 5 PM Open daily 10 AM – 6 PM July and August
Closed major holidays.

General admission to the Museum only: $10.00 for adults; $5.00 for youth under 18, students, seniors; free admission for MIT card holders and alumni. Discounts are listed online.



Media Contact

Martha Davis
MIT Museum