Maritime Curator Erik Ronnberg, Jr. to receive Edgar B. Caffrey Award

Tribute to a career dedicated to maritime heritage; ceremony on August 24, 2019

Erik A.R. Ronnberg, Sr. (1909–1988) and Erik A.R. Ronnberg, Jr. (b. 1944), Model of 1902 Mackerel Seiner Schooner Benjamin W. Latham, with Seine Boat, Cape Ann Museum, Gift of Earl Felton Harris, 1998 (1998.6)

The Cape Ann Museum’s esteemed Maritime Curator Erik Ronnberg Jr., who for many years worked as a shipmodel maker on Cape Ann, will be receiving the Edgar B. Caffrey Award during the 37th Annual Antique & Classic Boat Festival August 24-25, 2019 at the Hawthorne Marina in Salem, Mass.  The award will be conferred on Saturday August 24 at 11am. 

Ronnberg, the son of a Swedish-born Master Mariner who arrived in America in 1939, grew up in a household where he and his father would make shipmodels together.  After graduating with a degree in biology, Ronnberg decided to pursue a career in model making, firstly as an apprentice at the Newark Museum and then as an Assistant Curator at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.  Today Ronnberg’s models are in many private collections and Museums including the Smithsonian Institution, MIT Museum, Mystic Seaport Museum, New Bedford Whaling Museum and the Cape Ann Museum.

A model (above) made by Ronnberg together with his father is currently on view at the Cape Ann Museum as part the Museum’s recently opened “Homer at the Beach” exhibition which features 51 works by original works by renowned American artist Winslow Homer (1836–1910). The exhibition is the first close examination of the formation of this great artist as a marine painter. The Cape Ann Museum will be the sole venue for this exhibition, which includes loans from some 50 public and private collections.

Following a decline in the shipmodel market in 2014, Ronnberg joined the Cape Ann Museum as Maritime Curator and has carried out extensive research about the Museum’s Fishing and Maritime industry collections.  Ronnberg’s deep maritime knowledge was instrumental most recently in preparations for the “Homer at the Beach” exhibition, and his research and writings were integral to the Museum’s creation of an online catalogue raisonne of the works by Fitz Henry Lane (1804–1865), a Gloucester born artist who is today known as America’s preeminent marine artist of the mid-19th century. 

“We applaud Erik for this award in recognition of his lifelong passion and deep maritime knowledge,” said Oliver Barker as Director of the Cape Ann Museum. “This is a wonderful accolade for Erik who is one of the most highly regarding model makers in the country” said Barker.

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