Developing a new exhibit for a Museum is like taking a very long trip – there are many stops along the way from idea to installation. Sometimes, the process can take up to five years!  We know that this can seem like an eternity for young visitors eager to explore and play. 

With these regular updates….We wanted to take you behind the scenes or in this case, provide a “below the surface” look at the thoughtful and fun activities involved in the development of Saltwater Stories: The Sea & Me.  The 1,900 square-foot exhibit, which is at the mid-point of its production cycle, will explore Long Island’s deep maritime ties and how they have shaped the historical, cultural, and economic development of Long Island. 

Phase II Project Activities:

Working on more detailed drawings…

Black and white hand-drawn image of an exterior of a bay house and interior of bay house.

LICM’s exhibit staff is working to create more detailed drawings of exhibition areas like this one: a Bay House!

Long foam tubes leaning in all directions on a small platform.

They’re also creating models of elements, like this salt marsh hay, to figure out how to build them for the exhibit.

Meet Margo Malter, Senior Exhibit Developer & Project Director at LICM

Margo is working with a talented team of people at LICM and community advisors to create experiences in Saltwater Stories.

Make Your Own MICRO Museum, Courtesty of MICRODIY (PDF)


Working on Graphics


A man and young woman sitting in chairs looking at a computer screen and an inset image of the young woman drawing on a tablet device.

Paul Shields and Kaitlyn Hough work together to develop the “look and feel” of the exhibition through graphic elements. Kaitlyn is illustrating a bay house.


LICM’s exhibit staff built a model of the exhibition space so they can move things around and see where everything will fit.

Collaboration and Creating Programs

Collaboration is an important part of creating an exhibition.  The team of people at LICM working on this project is being helped by more than 10 advisors!  These advisors know A LOT about many different topics – all related to Saltwater Stories. 


Meet Saltwater Stories Advisor, Christine Ettlinger

Christine teaches 7th & 8th grade American History. Her family owns a bay house.


Meet Saltwater Stories Advisor, Brumsic Brandon

Brumsic is the former Science Chairperson for Westbury School District and an avid fisherman!



Meet Claire D’Emic, STEM Initiatives Program Director at LICM

Claire is developing programs for Saltwater Stories and collaborating with educators at the Smithsonian to test ideas.

Successful programs like the ones shown below will help Claire decide what to develop for Saltwater Stories. 

Idea 1

An LICM educator standing in front of two students during a squid dissection showing them a piece of the squid.

Squid Dissection – Here are the Enrichment 2 Excellence students doing their very first dissection! They learned about the internal and external anatomy of squid, as well as the ecology.

Idea 2

A piece of fabric painted by painting the back of a fish, crab, and starfish and placing it on the fabric.

Japanese Gyotaku Printing – During this Enrichment 2 Excellence lesson, students used real fish and other sea creatures to create gyotaku prints and learned how it became an art form. (Fishermen in the mid 1800s used it as a way of recording their catch.

Image 3

A raft made from sticks with a plastic person sitting on top with an oar while floating on water.

Make a boat that floats!

Idea 4

An LICM educator sitting at a table dissecting a fish while being surrounded by students watching.

Here are students from Westbury School District watching as an LICM educator dissects a fish. Always very popular!

Phase II Project Activities: 

Research Site Visit  
Date: October 15, 2021 
Location: Shinnecock Reservation Cultural Center and Museum, Southampton, NY 

During the visit, LICM staff spent more time talking with project advisors, exploring the collection of the Cultural Center and Museum, learning more about the relationship between the Shinnecock and the sea, and seeing the important work they’re doing to restore shorelines. 

A group of five people, two LICM exhibits staff members, and three consultants standing in front of a log cabin.

Exhibit team members Erik Schurink, Scott Larrabee, and Sarah Macey visited the Shinnecock Reservation Cultural Center and Museum in Southampton, NY and met with Saltwater Stories Advisor Josephine Smith, Director, Cultural Educator and Cultural Enrichment Program Coordinator, Shinnecock Indian Education Program; Andrea Godoy, Assistant Director, Cultural Center and Museum; and Shavonne Smith of the Shinnecock Shellfish Hatchery & Environmental Center.

Meet Saltwater Stories Advisor, Josephine Smith


The connection to the water and the importance of protecting it is a value that Saltwater Stories advisor Josephine Smith (Director, Cultural Enrichment Program Coordinator, Shinnecock Indian Education Program) wants to pass on to the next generation through LICM's exhibit.

Two women standing on a sandy beach with the ocean in the background.

Long Island’s seashore has a rich sense of place that touches all our senses. Native Americans have a deep connection to maritime whaling history and go to the sea for ceremony and healing.

Photo collage featuring Museum educators and visitors during prototyping activities.

Members of the exhibit development team sought advice from the most critical audience – children—as they tested concepts and component ideas for the exhibit.

Schematic description of the various areas of the Saltwater Stories exhibit.

LICM’s exhibit staff developed a working floor plan during Phase I of the exhibit development process.

This project is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Humanities New York.