A Maritime Master
Howard H. Hoege III Finds Smooth Sailing At The Mariners’ Museum
Howard Hoege grew up in Kingwood, Texas, a suburb of Houston. He went on to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was commissioned as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army. He later earned his law degree from the University of Virginia and served as an Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer in Iraq and other stations. After retiring from the Army, he was counsel on the staff of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee and later became assistant dean at the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. Before being appointed as president and CEO of The Mariners’ Museum and Park in September of this year, he founded a consulting firm that advised clients on the intersection of leadership development, strategy and culture in an organization. He co-led The Mariners’ Museum’s strategic planning process in 2015 and served as the interim president since May 2016.
CoVa BIZ: What drew you to The Mariners’ Museum?
Howard Hoege: It is hard not to be incredibly excited about the potential of this place! The museum has so many great building blocks, a tremendous staff, a very strong board and several substantive and tangible assets:
• Congress designating The Mariners’ Museum as America’s national maritime museum.
• We believe the park is the largest privately-owned and -funded parks that is also free and open to the public. The Noland Trail is a beautiful, 5-mile trek around the 167-acre Lake Maury. The Park is home to some of the oldest trees in Virginia, and a recent survey identified over 90 species of trees, many of which can be seen along the trail.
• The USS Monitor Center houses the world’s largest marine archaeological metals conservation efforts. We are developing science in our conservation lab that has established The Mariners’ Museum as the world leader in this form of conservation.
• Most maritime museums are focused exclusively on the maritime story of a specific region. When Archer Milton Huntington and Homer Ferguson founded The Mariners’ Museum, they dispatched buyers all up and down the Eastern Seaboard and throughout Europe and Asia to buy objects for the collection. As a result, we have an international collection and have the unique ability to tell a world story through a really world-class collection.
• When our library returns, visitors will have the opportunity to access the largest maritime archival collection in the Western Hemisphere.
• We have over 90,000 square feet of gallery space, and there really is something for everyone.
CoVa BIZ: For people who have never visited The Mariners’ Museum, what would you tell them to prompt them to check it out?
HHIII: The Mariners’ Museum’s core purpose is to connect people to the world’s waters—to their maritime heritage—because that is how we are connected to one another. The Mariners’ Museum and Park is uniquely situated among maritime museums because of the breadth and depth of our collection. It allows us to tell everything from a local to a national to a global story. We have a new exhibit on Polynesian Voyagers that will remain open through June 2017.
Complementing our Polynesian Voyagers exhibit, the crew of Hokulea was at the museum recently to perform maintenance on the Hokulea before it completes the last leg of its circumnavigation of the globe, returning to Hawaii. This is a wonderful opportunity for visitors to the museum to learn something about a fascinating culture that adopted a truly remarkable navigational technique to discover and inhabit the vast network of Pacific islands. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for visitors to the museum to feel a connection to a culture that isn’t always front-of-mind in Hampton Roads. In May 2017, we will open an exhibit on the America’s Cup with a focus on the amazing technology that has made its way into that oldest of continuously running international sporting competitions.
CoVa BIZ: What do you enjoy most about living and working in Coastal Virginia?
HHIII: My family and I are loving the water. It really does occupy the most important place at the heart of our community’s culture. I don’t know that people outside of Coastal Virginia realize just how diverse the people are down here. By virtue of the military presence, the port and a long history, Coastal Virginia is really quite a melting pot of different cultures connected to and through the water.
By Barrett Baker