The North Carolina Maritime Museum is a new maritime museum system of three regional museums that fall under the North Carolina Museum of History, comprised of the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport, the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort and the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras.
The three North Carolina Maritime Museums collaborate to preserve, protect and present North Carolina’s coastal history maritime culture that includes boat building, fishing, the seafood industry, underwater archaeology, piracy, boating, and shipwrecks, life-saving, decoy carving, and marine life, science, and ecology. Each museum is unique in its own right, offers year-round exhibitions and educational programs and has free admission.
The North Carolina Maritime Museum began life as a small collection of natural history specimens the laboratories of the U.S. Fisheries on Pivers Island in the early 1900s. It was established as the North Carolina Maritime Museum in 1984 with the addition of the Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center in 1992. Branch museums on Roanoke Island and at Southport were added to the system expansion in 1999 due to growth and expansion, followed by the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in 2007. Today, the North Carolina Maritime Museum consists of the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport, the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort and the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras and are part of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras
Named after the name for North Carolina’s treacherous coastline that was renowned for having a record number of shipwrecks, the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum tells the horrific stories of the more than 2,000 shipwrecks that lie on the Outer Banks. The Museum’s informative and fascinating exhibits explore the major wrecks in the region, such as the Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge, the USS Monitor, the USS Huron and U-85, among others. The museum pays particular focus to the involvement the region and its communities had in various wars, including the Civil War, World War I and World War II.
The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum also offers a variety of educational programming for all ages throughout the year, including family-friendly Maritime Crafts workshops, scavenger hunts, demonstrations, and lectures. The Salty Dawg Series includes everything from seafood cooking and maritime art and music to history and culture talks on the Civil War and WWII and life-saving stories.
North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport
The North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport is dedicated to the maritime history and heritage of the Lower Cape Fear region and features a variety of exhibits and displays that include models of ships, shipwrecks, nautical instruments, shells, commercial and sports fishing, pirates and hurricanes.
Boasting an exterior of white wooden clapboard planks, a navy blue entrance sign, and lovely landscaping, the Museum exudes the ambiance of a charming coastal cottage or a boat house, evoking a sense of maritime nostalgia. The interior of the museum resembles that of the hull of an old ship with crisscrossing arc-like wooden beams overhead, flying flags and many exhibits, displays, and artifacts that tell the story of North Carolina's unique maritime history and heritage.
North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort
The North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort is dedicated to exploring the maritime cultural heritage of North Carolina. The museum features interesting exhibits and displays that include models of fish, shells from over 100 countries, various types of watercraft used in the past, fishing and whaling equipment, and more.
Other exhibits in the museum include displays that focus on the history of the United States Lighthouse Service, the Revenue Cutter Service, the United States Life-Saving Service, and the Steamboat Inspection Service. The Museum is also home to a separate boat shed that houses a collection of traditional working watercraft and the John S. MacCormack Model Shop where visitors can discover the art of ship model-making.
The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum: 59200 Museum Drive, Hatteras, NC 27943, Phone: 252-986-2995
North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport: 204 E. Moore Street, Southport, NC 28461, Phone: 910-457-0003
North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort: 315 Front Street, Beaufort, NC 28516, Phone: 252-728-7317
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