The Ocean Liner Museum and the Seamenís Church Institute take pleasure in announcing presentation of a joint exhibition to open in the ground floor gallery of the Seamenís Church Institute at 241 Water Street in early fall 2001.

Entitled DAZZLE & DRAB : OCEAN LINERS AT WAR, the exhibition will document the varying roles assigned to peacetime ocean liners when dispatched on the urgent business of war. Those assignments included conversion to armed merchant cruisers, troopships or, during World War I in particular, the benevolent role of hospital ship.

One visual change involving liners during that war was an experimental scheme of camouflage designed to mislead enemy commanders as to the size, course and nature of any Allied merchant vessels they encountered. Dreamed up by Norman Wilkinson, a celebrated marine artist seconded to the Admiralty for the duration, the radical cosmetic refit was called dazzle painting: Hull, superstructure and funnels were daubed in a sometimes startling, multi-colored overlay of triangles, diamonds, stripes or arbitrary design whimsies that effectively broke up the vesselís silhouette. Hence the DAZZLE of the title.

During the next war, dazzle painting fell out of favor, deemed either ineffectual or too time-consuming. It was replaced by an enveloping coat of battleship gray, spread across the linerís entire profile, covering hull, funnels, superstructure and even portholes and promenade deck windows. Thus the World War II substitute for dazzle, DRAB.

Woody Swain, who serves on the boards of both Seamenís Church Institute and the Ocean Liner Museum, will chair the exhibition. Serving as his guest curator will be Wayne Mazzotta who did such a superb job with Blue Ribband.

Messrs. Swain and Mazzotta will have their work cut out for them. Tracking the careers of ocean liners during wartime, no less than unearthing presentable material for display, will not be easy. For obvious reasons, photographs of liners taken during hostilities were few and far between. Moreover, wartime artifacts and memorabilia tend to be thin on the ground.

But it is our hope that the Museum membership will once again rise to the occasion. Readers who either possess or know the whereabouts of wartime ocean liner items are urged to communicate with Woody Swain through the Ocean Liner Museumís telephone number (212) 717-6251 or Wayne Mazzotta at home on evenings or weekends (212) 831-5391.

President John Maxtone-Graham will write a catalogue for the exhibition which will be funded as a separate entity by the Ocean Liner Museum. As of this date, an anonymous donor has generously committed to underwriting a major portion of the catalogueís publication costs. Members are invited to join with him via matching grants. For further details, read this issueís Editorial Column on page 2.

Dazzle & Drab will run through yearís end. Your Editor will keep members apprised of any further developments. Any of our dedicated volunteers who would be interested in lending a hand for the load-in and/or installation in August/September of 2001 should make their interest and availability known to executive director Gregg Swain, who can be reached at the Museum or via the email address at


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