Forbes and Clark Collections,


Over 3,800 objects from the Captain Arthur H. Clark Collection and the Allan Forbes Whaling Collection at the MIT Museum

The Visualizing Maritime History Project (VHMP) offers users access to over 3800 objects in two collections of the MIT Museum. These two collections, the Captain Arthur H. Clark Collection and the Allan Forbes Whaling Collection, were donated to MIT in the first half of the twentieth century. A substantial grant from the Maritime Heritage Grant Program of the United States National Park Service, and additional support from the MIT Museum and the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, has allowed us to catalogue and photograph these collections for the first time.

The primary collection groups in Hart Nautical constitute a substantial archive of plans, photographs, film, and printed materials. Because of the fragile nature of these collections, handling is limited. The MIT Museum, however, is committed to providing the widest possible access to this material. As funding permits, our new online collections portal will continue to expand visual access to collections.

While ongoing retrospective cataloging and additions to the database continue, the best way to explore and use these collections is to become familiar with the online collections portal, the collections summaries below and our access policies. Requests for copies of plans or photographs must be made in writing (via mail or email).

Captain Arthur H. Clark Collection

The first major collection of material received by the Museum, the Clark Collection consists of marine artwork, books, plans, and half models. The 1,400 pieces of artwork include prints, lithographs, etchings, engravings, and photographs, mostly depicting American and British ships and yachts between 1850 and 1900. There are also many European prints from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries that illustrate Europe's shipbuilding history.

Also included are approximately 400 books relating to ship design, maritime law, and yachting, including some rare works. The plans number roughly 300, the majority of which are printed material. This collection features a number of clipper ship plans, including contemporary lines drawings on heavy paper or linen. The 16 half models include some very fine examples of the modeler's art. Models and plans are both catalogued by name of vessel or subject.

Allan Forbes Whaling Collection

Given to MIT in 1940, this collection was gathered by Allan Forbes, Sr., while he was president of the State Street Trust Company. It consists of over 2,000 prints and paintings from several countries depicting whales, whaling, and whaling vessels, ranging from sixteenth-century Dutch engravings to nineteenth-century Japanese woodcuts. A small collection of rare books about whaling is also part of this collection. Cataloged by general subject and country of origin.

Forbes and Clark Collections

Visualizing Maritime History Project

Over 3,800 objects from the Captain Arthur H. Clark Collection and the Allan Forbes Whaling Collection at the MIT Museum

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