Tales of the Sea Christmas Exhibit

Reposted from the Declarations Blog

Tales of the Sea Christmas exhibit


On November 18, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum kicked off the holiday season with the “Tales of the Sea Christmas” exhibit. The exhibit will run through January 7, 2018.

Since 1990, the Hoover Museum has presented a decorated tree exhibit every year, beginning with “Christmas Around the World,” which featured trees of countries where the Hoovers had either lived or visited.

Assistant curator Melanie Wier spent about a year working on the Christmas tree exhibit. This year, “Tales of the Sea Christmas” honors Hoover’s love of the sea and fishing.

“Each year, I propose themes that can be broken down into 20 sub-themes, since we usually have 20 trees, and present the ideas to the curatorial team,” Wier said. “Then we flesh out ideas and vote on the one we like best. We try to make sure the exhibit has a direct connection to Hoover at least every other year. This year’s theme was born from Herbert Hoover’s love of the sea, his sea journeys, and artifacts we have related to crossing the equator ceremonies that he and his family took part in.”


These three trees represent Lighthouses, Myths & Legends, and Maritime Service.

Jaws tree

Jaws tree.









There are 17 trees in the exhibit this year, including:
The Sea

  • The Sea
    Men of the Sea
  • Myths & Legends
  • Lighthouses
  • Maritime Service
  • Shipwrecks
  • Jaws (image on right)
  • Sea Songs
  • America’s Cup Race
  • King Neptune
  • Pirates
  • Sea Monsters
  • Mermaids
  • Biblical Stories
  • Places of the Sea
  • Vessels
  • Titanic

The curatorial staff offers Hoover Library staff, volunteers, and interns the opportunity to decorate a tree. The Hoover Library also invites the Cedar Valley Chapter of the Embroiderers’ Guild of America to come and decorate a tree each year.

While decorating a tree may sound simple, Wier maintains extensive worksheets in order to keep track of each tree’s ornaments, decorations, lights, and more. Each tree ranges from seven to nine feet tall, and is designed based on the research she collects for each one.

“I reuse ornaments from years past, make some of the ornaments and decor, and order at least one new ornament for each tree. The gift shop also sells a selection of the new ornaments,” Wier explained. “Each tree also has a topper, garland, tree skirt, and five or more strands of lights. There is also an individual label for each tree that tells about the tree topic.”


Sea Monsters

Sea Monsters

Assistant curator Melanie Wier created a number of ornaments and decor for the Tales of the Sea Christmas exhibit. Here is a look at the tentacles on the Sea Monster tree

Wier’s favorite part of working on the exhibit is the opportunity to be creative.

“I love being able to create ornaments and decor for the exhibit,” she said. “I have a studio art background and always enjoy the opportunity to create. For this exhibit, I made tentacles, kelp, coral, shipwrecked masts, sea-themed kids activities, ornaments, and swathed the walls in blue fabrics.”

Outside of the exhibit, museum galleries will feature Hoover family movies from 1928 and a large area of games and activities for children.

“This exhibit is always fun for families over the holidays,” Wier said. “I hope that visitors come away from this exhibit with wonderful memories of visiting the Herbert Hoover Museum and that they are eager to return for their next adventure!

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