standing Mystic Seaport Museum

Mystic Seaport Museum. Sun file photo

MYSTIC — In a sign of the times, the Mystic Seaport Museum will close its famed Maritime Art Gallery in August for good.

The official closing date is Aug. 23, but the gallery will remain open on a limited basis and by appointment.

"COVID has forced us to take a very hard look at our business operations," said Seaport spokesman Dan McFadden Monday afternoon. "It wasn't making money."

The gallery, he said, has faced declining sales in recent years, and has required regular subsidies.

"We're very disappointed," McFadden said. "We're proud of the gallery and of its mission to nurture artists, but the numbers just can't support it."

In a statement posted on the museum website, museum president and CEO Steve White called the decision "a casualty of the COVID-19 crisis and the weakening marine art market."

The gallery was founded in 1979, the announcement continued, by Rudolph Schaefer III, as a business venture to support museum operations and to provide a venue to nurture the careers of emerging artists in the contemporary maritime art field.

"Many of the leading artists at work today got their start at the gallery," the announcement reads, "It has also enabled a deep relationship between the Museum and the American Society of Marine Artists."

McFadden said there are no plans for the space and all art work will be returned to the exhibiting artists.

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