Tuckerton Turn of the Century Exhibit – Noyes Museum Decoys

I’m Catherine McLearen, the new collections intern with the Seaport. I graduated from Seton Hall University with a BA in Political Science and minor in History. I’ve joined the Seaport to learn directly about the day to day operations of museum work and the archiving work that is done there. As a Tuckerton local, there seemed no better place to gain that experience!

In preparation for our upcoming “Tuckerton: Turn of the Century” exhibit, our Director of Education and Exhibits Julie Hain, Board trustee Jim Allen, and I met with Saskia Schmidt of the Noyes Museum of Art to check out their decoy collection. We were led to a room scarcely lit by industrial light stands and with insulation sprouting from the ceiling that inconspicuously held dozens of these treasures. Initially, the scene hits a person like me as piles of wooden ducks sharing space with the occasional pottery, blown glass, and eel nets.

But Jim was like a kid in a candy shop and with descriptions like the “attitude” on an LT Ward Brothers Pinch Breast Pintail, I quickly got an education of my own on the undeniable value of what was in the room. By sight alone, Jim called out the type, maker, location and value of dozens of decoys and shorebirds – and he wasn’t wrong once. In fact, he’s invited back to the Noyes museum whenever they can have him to fill in their missing information.

The adventure yielded 13 unique finds, including; pieces from 3 generations of Shourds carvers, shorebirds, and other traditional New Jersian works. Thanks to Saskia Schmidt and the rest of the Noyes Museum’s preservation of these pieces, the Seaport is eager to unveil our display worthy of the craftsmanship of these works as part of our upcoming “Tuckerton: Turn-of-the-Century” exhibit.