Photo by the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum.

On March 1, Joseph Karl Schwarzer II, the longtime Director of the North Carolina Maritime Museum System with museums in Hatteras, Beaufort, and Southport, officially retired.

Schwarzer was educated at the University of Arizona, SUNY Binghamton, and the University of Pennsylvania with degrees in Archaeology and History of Art. During his long career, he taught at SUNY Binghamton, University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and Texas A&M. He lectured in the United States, Athens, Istanbul, Ankara, and Rome at various academic conferences. He authored numerous academic publications, and was also an investment broker and fine arts dealer.

He arrived in North Carolina in 1995 to build the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras Village and was the Museum’s founding Director.

Schwarzer also worked at the Museum of Northern Arizona/the Bureau of Indian Affairs, as a nautical archeologist at the Yorktown, Virginia Bicentennial excavations, in Maine on the privateer Defence, in Italy with the American Academy in Rome with the discovery of a submerged Roman port, and in Turkey with the Institute of Nautical Archaeology.

In Turkey, he most notably worked on the Serce Liman wreck which had the largest collection of medieval Islamic glass found to date. He also conserved a unique collection of weapons from the site and helped develop a conservation method for casting facsimiles of metal objects from concreted remains, which he taught to nautical archeologists in North Carolina.

Schwarzer was the first two-time Fulbright winner to Turkey. He helped design and install the Serce Liman weapons exhibit at the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology in Bodrum, Turkey, was interim Director of the American Research Institute in Istanbul, and Director of the Higgins Armory Museum in Massachusetts.

While in North Carolina, Schwarzer was on numerous committees and boards including the Outer Banks History Center, Outer Banks Preservation Association, Chicamacomico Historical Association, and the Turkish American Association in D.C. He served as president of the NC Maritime History Council and President of the Monitor Marine Sanctuary Advisory Board, and helped coordinate the Commission Internationale d’Histoire Militaire in Norfolk, VA.

He was also the Coast Guard nominee and recipient for the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference through the Department of Defense, and was seen on numerous PBS and C-Span specials, and several episodes of the “Mysteries at the Museum” television series.

During his retirement, Schwarzer plans on unpacking his suitcase, not traveling, and continuing his research.

Dr. Darin Waters, deputy secretary of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, said that Schwarzer’s retirement marks the end of a distinguished career of public service to the State of North Carolina.

“Joe has worked diligently to ensure the preservation and promotion of our state’s maritime history,” Waters said. “His leadership has led to many changes, including the renovation of the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum at Hatteras. We are thankful to Joe for his many contributions to this important work and congratulate him on his retirement.”

Waters has appointed Maria Vann, deputy director of the North Carolina Museum of History, to serve as the interim director during the search for a new Maritime Museum System director.

Meanwhile, the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum continues its extensive renovation, and museum representatives are expected to announce an official opening date in the coming weeks.

The post Joe Schwarzer retires as Director of the North Carolina Maritime Museum System appeared first on Island Free Press.

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