Maritime Museum sails forward with plan to raise money

Maritime Museum sails forward with plan to raise money

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - The dream of opening a world class Maritime Museum in Pascagoula is sailing forward.

Tuesday night, the organization that oversees the museum will be appearing before the Gautier City Council asking for monetary support. They met with Pascagoula city leaders a couple of weeks ago. The eventual goal is to go before the state legislature next year to ask for funding to complete the project.

Maritime museum committee treasurer Robert Hardy wants to open new doors of educational opportunities when the museum is finished.

Most everyone involved is united in that goal, according to Hardy.

"Our vision is to convert this structure into a world class interactive maritime museum," he said. "The museum will tell the story of 300 years of maritime legacy."

Already, a maritime activities center has been completed at a cost of $550,000. Now, the challenge is to raise $4.75 million dollars in five years for the renovation and opening of the main building.

"It's 17,000 square feet. It's architecturally significant. It's on the national historic register because of the design and how it's constructed," said Hardy. "It's withstood everything that Mother Nature could throw at it."

Museum officials hope to raise that money within five years, and even open the museum entirely within three years.

"It's taken almost 10 years to get to this point," he explained. "In phase one, we took the old Pascagoula High School math and science building, 7000 square feet, and converted it into a maritime activities center."

He added there will be plenty of activity.

"We'll be teaching school kids courses here on the history of our maritime heritage, which goes back to 1699. This is a space where we could build wooden boats and then we'll receive artifacts and catalog and preserve the artifacts that are turned into the museum."

The center will be put to good use, and not just for the museum.

"It will serve as the office space, the board meeting rooms and then for civic organizations that need space to have their meetings," said Hardy.

In addition to asking for monetary support from local governments and the state, museum officials say they plan on requesting some BP money from the Restore Act. fund.

Once completed, the Maritime Museum will act as an educational portal for school children from across the coast. It could also serve as a tourism draw for visitors to the coast.

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