Library Gallery presents Smithsonian Poster Exhibit: From Sea to Shining Sea

Celebrating 200th Anniversary of NOAA Predecessor

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Celebrating 200th Anniversary of NOAA Predecessor

Every day, cruise ships sail from Miami; coal ships deliver to power plants along the shores of the Great Lakes; crabbing boats harvest Alaskan king crab in the Bering Sea; and weekenders prepare their boats for leisurely afternoons on the Chesapeake Bay. Each one of these mariners uses the resources of NOAA’s Navigation Services to safely navigate U.S. coastal waters.

In recognition of this landmark 200th anniversary of the establishment of the Survey of the Coast, NOAA and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) have created the exhibit, “From Sea to Shining Sea: 200 Years of Charting America’s Coasts,” which opens June 21 at the University of Rhode Island Library Gallery, Kingston, RI. The URI Library Gallery is one of 200 venues nationwide to be a part of this special celebration. To view a complete list of host organizations, visit

In 1807, President Thomas Jefferson recognized the need to chart the coastal waters of this country as vital to the independence and prosperity of the economy and to the security of this fledgling Nation. With his foresight, Jefferson compelled Congress to pass an Act establishing “the Survey of the Coast,” a predecessor agency of today’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Survey of the Coast charted the nation’s ports and waterways, researched physical characteristics of the ocean bottom, and explored many of the world’s oceans. The organization was known for a tradition of perseverance, scientific integrity, engraving and charting skills, and courage.

This exhibit, which will be shown in maritime museums, ports, aquaria, nature centers, schools, libraries and lighthouses, celebrates the history, accomplishments and scientific contributions of the nation’s first science agency. The 20 colorful posters are illustrated with photos, charts and artwork from the Survey’s archives.

“This year we are proud to be holding a year-long celebration of 200 years of science, service, and stewardship to the nation originating with the Survey of the Coast,” said Captain Steven R. Barnum, director of NOAA Office of Coast Survey, which is one of the four offices that continues to carry out the original agency’s mission. “We are honored that our partnership with the Smithsonian Institution has produced this vibrant depiction of our history to help us commemorate this distinguished occasion.”

Today, waterborne commerce remains the backbone of the U.S. economy, contributing more than 13 million jobs and $1 trillion annually. In the past two centuries, the Survey has mapped more than 95,000 miles of coastline, produced more than 20,000 nautical maps and charts, installed more than 6,000 tide stations, helped predict the movement of oil spills, established the Pacific Tsunami Warning System and maintained the national network of more than 1,000 GPS reference sites. Though the methods have changed throughout time, Jefferson’s legacy lives on in NOAA’s navigation services as they continue to benefit safety, national security and economic competitiveness.

An agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.” “From Sea from Sea to Shining Sea” is part of a series of anniversary events sponsored by NOAA. For more information, visit and

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 50 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. Exhibition descriptions and tour schedules are available at

In conjunction with the Smithsonian exhibit, the Coastal Resources Center (CRC) at the University of Rhode Island will be exhibiting information and materials representing over 30 years of work from US and international projects. These will include examples of the work CRC has performed from the coasts of Rhode Island, Tanzania, Thailand Nicaragua and others. Some of the work CRC has not been limited to coastal management but also related issues – governance, HIV/AIDS, alternate livelihoods and examples of these will also be exhibited.

The Coastal Resources Center is dedicated to advancing coastal management worldwide. In addition to assisting in the development and implementation of coastal management programs in Rhode Island and the United States, the Center is active in countries throughout the world promoting the sustainable use of coastal resources for the benefit of all. Implementing coastal management projects in the field, building capacity through education and training, and sharing lessons learned and information throughout the coastal community are the foundation of the CRC’s work.

Past and current international projects that the CRC has led include work in Tanzania, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Mexico. At home in the US, the CRC is building upon its past work in helping to create Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Program—one of the first in America in the 1970s—with newer initiatives such as the Greenwich Bay Special Area Management Plan and the Providence Metro Bay Management Plan. The CRC is looked to for its progressive work on coastal management issues here and abroad, and enjoys an international reputation for leadership in its field.

From Sea to Shining Sea: 200 Years of Charting America’s Coasts is brought to you courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Smithsonian Institution.