On Wednesday, May 26, the Lighthouse Tender LILAC turned 88 years old. The LILAC, moored at Pier 25 at Hudson River Park, is a little gem with unique programming right in the heart of Manhattan’s waterfront. The latest activation, an art installation that melds historic photography and audio, is no exception. You can see the work, entitled 88 LILAC, from afar, as the historic stack of the ship has been wheat pasted with black and white photos culled from the boat’s illustrious past.

Museum Director and President Mary Habstritt always likes to do something to honor the boat on Memorial Day weekend when the ship opens to the public for the season. Typically, the anniversary of the ship’s launch is celebrated with an invitation for the public to come on board and enjoy a slice of cake in her honor. COVID restrictions made that impossible again this year, so working with Untapped New York, she found another way to let the public know it was this amazing vessel’s birthday. 

Lilac at Pier 25

88 LILAC consists of an onboard paper mural to celebrate the history of the LILAC on Pier 25 in Lower Manhattan. This paper mural displays large-scale historic images wheatpasted along the ship’s historic stack in order to make the ship visible from afar and attract public attention to the LILAC over the Memorial Day holiday. Up close, visitors will be able to more closely experience the historic images displayed on boat, while listening to a dramatized audio account of an important moment in LILAC’s history. 

Lilac smokestack

The dramatic account titled “Aids to Navigation” is written by Untapped New York’s Chief Experience Officer Justin Rivers centers around the ship’s second commander, Captain Charles Lewis and is intended to serve as a mini-dramatic tour of LILAC. Captain Lewis is voiced by actor Robert Dalton and the audio piece was directed and mixed by director, Michael Joseph Ormond. The public will be able to access the experience via a QR code near the stern of the boat and can enjoy the entire installation from Pier 25.  

Lilac smokestack

Mary Habstritt tells Untapped New YorkWe are so excited to see LILAC wake up after her pandemic sleep!  Happy 88th birthday! Thanks to Aaron and Justin at Untapped New York for helping to resuscitate her. Although volunteers have been working all along to renovate the ship , there is lots more to do to get her operational again.”

The artist Aaron Asis, Untapped New York’s Artist in Residence says, “”88 LILAC invites the public to celebrate the life and history LILAC’s 88 years of operation. This site specific installation is our birthday gift to LILAC…to help her shine…so that she can continue to inspire and share with the public, as we anxiously await her grand re-opening in July!”

The hope is that these two temporary installations will inspire public inquiry into the past, present, and future of the LILAC Preservation Project. Stay tuned for a special visit for Untapped New York Insiders to the Lilac this summer! Help Lilac Preservation Project by contributing your time or treasure.  Check out this link for more information.