2012 Annual Appeal

Eli Whitney Museum

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When I was young, there was a gifted furniture maker in New Haven whose work had all the elegance of an old master. I was in awe. I asked him if I might just stand behind him to watch him work on the lathe. The man answered my question with a rude: “No.” “I learned the hard way,” he said. “So must you.” I could not accept that. I resolved that I would never deny an eager student my skills, my experience, my passion for the craft. What we have been given, we must give.

Norm Methot offered that story at the end of an evening that recognized his remarkable career as a cabinetmaker and mentor. Norm has restored priceless antiques. He built boldly experimental furniture. And he never forgot his pledge to collect and pass on expertise. Norm shaped the careers of a generation of artisans. He defined the mission and methods of our Museum.

It is the time of year that we write to thank you for all we have accomplished with your past support, and to ask for your continued help. Your dollars help us keep Norm’s promise. You give us tools, materials and time to share skills that can only be exchanged hand to hand. It’s an ancient and empowering legacy. You help us demonstrate that education is bigger than schooling and that the world needs every eager learner.


1. Share Beauty 48%

The Open Workshop Fund reduces or eliminates the cost of programs for children whose families or schools lack the resources to join our workshops or field trips.

148 Summer Workshop Scholarships.
58 Scholarships for refugee children (with IRIS).
570 Reduced cost projects for most-in-need children.
280 Beta Test Projects for Washington School.

NM: Craft is powerful. All children must experience well-made things if they are to understand that it’s important to make things well.

A Museum supported artist-in-residence project at Hooker School.

2. Share Mastery 18%

The Apprenticeship Fund supports training. Seventy-five middle school, high school and college students are gaining expertise, poise, confidence and wisdom.

Most of their time is active production, design and teaching. The Apprenticeship Fund supports direct and individual mentoring, experimental projects, design challenges and the social experience that is essential to maturing in a workplace.

NM: The [Museum’s] job is: help every child find that one thing that he or she does very, very, well. When you get them to know that, they will figure out the rest.

Dave Cox working on the 82 year old racing yacht Dorade.
Norm saw in Dave the potential to learn with the best boat builders in the Northeast. He took Dave to a lecture at the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport. Dave never left.

3. Share Challenges 15%

The Design Fund supports research and development. We reinvent our established projects…perpetually. We create new projects to teach old and new ideas. Fifteen staff and apprentices will work on 100 new designs this year.

10 Senior Staff spend at least 20% of their time on design or redesign.
The Design Fund is working to engage 100% of the apprentices in some facet of design.

NM: Begin each project by asking: what can I learn? A day without learning something new is incomplete.

Nathan Coste is the first Methot Design Intern. He absorbs the experience of designers. He works out ideas in the code of robot production. Mentor/ apprentice training is no less powerful in the 21st century

4. Share Time 11%

Hang Pham (Apple) lends muscle and coordination.

The Jack Viele Fund provides extra hands. 800 hours of support this past summer for children who lack the strength, or confidence, or concentration to master our projects.

NM: A cabinetmaker knows that art can be hidden. Time and hard work heals most wounds. Recovered treasures are to me the most beautiful.

5. Investing for Change 4%

The Catherine Greene Fund encourages girls to try activities traditionally associated with boys.

Caty Greene was the vivacious, bold and independent widow of Major General Nathaniel Greene who supported Eli Whitney’s work on the cotton gin. We return the encouragement…
• Eleven scholarships for girls with unbounded curiosity and drive.
• The Polly Lada Mocarski Prize to recognize the Museum’s young women leaders.

NM: (When Sylvie was 14…) I look at her work and wonder: how could anyone have doubted ever that all hands can create equally?

6. Investing for the Future 4%

No task requires longer vision than the labor of uprooting and replacing the invasive species that thrive on post-industrial sites.

The Stewardship Fund trains and guides the apprentices who plant native trees, shrubs and forbs (understory plants) every year to establish a succession that will support the beauty and diversity encountered here in 1798.

Apprentices planted this Amelanchier and protect it from Knotweed, Bittersweet and Multiflora Rose. It honors Normand’s mother-in-law, Helen Yaggi.

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