Monday, July 19, 2010
Staff Profile: Prof. John B. Hattendorf, Museum Director
John B. Hattendorf (left, in front of the new display of Admiral H. Kent Hewitt's medals) is the Ernest J. King Professor of Maritime History at the U.S. Naval War College, a position he has held since 1984. In 2003 he became Chairman of the Maritime History Department and Director of the Naval War College Museum.
Immediately after taking the helm of the museum, Professor Hattendorf applied for an institutional survey conducted by the American Association of Museums' (AAM) Museum Assessment Program (MAP). The MAP survey made many substantial recommendations towards the professionalization of collections stewardship, the institution of educational programming, and improved standards in exhibitions and public engagement. Over the last five years, Hattendorf has worked to implement these recommendations by successfully advocating for the addition of two new staff members, by directing and outlining concepts for new exhibitions, and reclaiming the entirety of Founders Hall for use by the Naval War College Museum.
The museum now offers gallery tours and a lecture program that is free and open to the public. While management and care of the museum's artifact collection continues to improve, exhibits have been reorganized to create a chronological self-guided tour of the museum's interpretive themes: the history of the Navy in Narragansett Bay to 1865, the Naval Torpedo Station, the Naval Training Station, and the Naval War College. Professor Hattendorf has also instituted a robust rotating exhibit program to encourage repeat visitation. Public engagement, a challenge due to the restricted access of Naval Station Newport, has improved with social media such as this blog and the museum's facebook page.
He is continuing to direct museum improvements and work towards AAM accreditation while writing an updated edition of Sailors and Scholars: The Centennial History of the U.S. Naval War College.
For additional information on Professor Hattendorf's career as a naval officer, historian, and academic visit his faculty profile on the Naval War College website.