Hi Jessica —
It sounds as if your institution has made a wise decision, and it seems as if you’ve taken very appropriate steps in pursuit of their objectives. I’m surprised that the response has not been more poaitive.
My only suggestion is that you’d probably receive a better response if (at a cost of sgnificantly greater time and effort) you could be more specific in providing information about the nature of the material being deaccessioned (papers, paintings, photos, wreck fragments, …etc.) and its geographic relationships (east/west/gulf coast, Great Lakes…etc.
Most museums dealing with maritime (or other) history have narrowed their focus over time with respect to the historical period, the geographic area, and/or the types of activity that they choose to collect, preserve and interpret. Consequently, the prospect of acquiring generic “old stuff” or “old maritime stuff” isn’t likely to generate great enthusiasm unless there’s reason to believe that the material fits well into their own mission and scope. (That, after all, is precisely why your deaccessioning project is a wise and appropriate initiative.)
I can’t guarantee, but I’d be pretty confident in predicting that if you were to touch base with the same organizations that you’ve previously contacted, and offer more specific information about the artifacts, documents, etc. that your institution has to offer, you’d be receiving more encouragng and more enthusiastic feedback from places that would be pleased to provide a good home for some of your institution’s surplus material.