Expansion begins on N.C. Maritime Museum in Southport

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The North Carolina Maritime Museum in Southport broke ground Wednesday on a 2,500-square-foot addition to the museum’s facility located at historic Fort Johnston on the Southport waterfront.

The goal of The Friends of the North Carolina Maritime Museum’s “Come Grow with Us” campaign is to raise $305,000 for its expansion, according to a news release from the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. To date, the campaign has raised $287,600 in cash and pledges, achieving 94 percent of its goal.

Volunteers will contribute hundreds of hours of labor and local businesses provide materials and services, sometimes at discounted costs. Support from local, state and federal agencies have allowed the museum to obtain and expand its facilities.

“The success of our Capital Campaign, ‘Come Grow with Us,’ reflects the deep commitment of the individuals, businesses and government agencies of the Lower Cape Fear region to the long-term growth of the museum,” said Jim Crum, campaign treasurer for the Friend’s organization.

The addition will increase the museum’s working spaces, to include a large, multi-purpose meeting/classroom, an archival storage room to protect and preserve sensitive documents and artifacts, provide a workshop for building and maintaining exhibits, a library extension for audio-visual media, two new ADA-compliant bathrooms, offices for the Curator of Education and the Friends’ Administrator, and space for storing exhibits, artifacts and other materials.

Since opening in its new home in July 2011, the museum has seen visitation rise to 40,000 to 50,000 guests per year, and has received the prestigious TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award three years in a row, according to the news release.

“This expansion would not be possible without the hard work by The Friends of the N.C. Maritime Museum at Southport and the support from the donors,” said Joseph K. Schwarzer, Director of the North Carolina Maritime Museums.

The North Carolina Maritime Museum, 204 E. Moore St., Southport, is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free. Donations are always welcome. For more information, call 910-457-0003 or visit their website. For more information about the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, visit www.ncdcr.gov.