Maritime Museum

The physical place that I chose to examine is a museum from my home town, the Maritime Museum, located in Beaufort, NC. Growing up I loved this museum because it was not only fun and interesting, but it was also where a lot of community events were held that I participated in.

The Maritime Museum has the perfect layout for an informative space that allows visitors to interact with different exhibits. Once you enter the museum the lights are dimmed creating an atmosphere similar to being underwater and the first thing one sees is a huge whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling that appears to be diving down towards the visitor. This instantly draws in visitors and peaks their interest as for what’s to come next. In many cases lights used in exhibits have a blue or green hue furthering the idea of being in an underwater space.

33.5-foot-long skeleton of a male sperm whale named Echo that was stranded and died at Cape Lookout in 2004.

The museum is in the shape of a “U” where you start at one end and travel through to the other side with small sections cut out where visitors can interact with different areas. This “U” shape helps to guide the visitor in a more or less chronological order through the history of maritime studies including boat-building, pirates, scientific discoveries, animals, and even some surfing history. Many of the history and artifacts in the museum are locally based which provides a special connection to the hometown. The museum also holds a small antique library in the back where visitors can continue their research. There are many new, interactive touchscreen interfaces that provide information on specific subjects that are geared for kids as well as adults. These include maps that show various North Carolina ship wreckages, surfing stimulations, and interactive star maps.

Small exhibit detailing the history of surfing in North Carolina.

The overall experience of being in this space is being submerged into an underwater shipwreck filled with old artifacts. While this museum does not change out its exhibits like an art museum would, some major projects are added occasionally. One example are some cannons from a recent shipwreck found off the coast of North Carolina that were added within the last two years.

I love the Maritime Museum and I wouldn’t want to change very much, if anything, about it in order to preserve its history and aspect of being traditional as opposed to modern. However, we live in a modern-day world that is adapting to new technologies and if the Maritime Museum wants to keep up with the rest of the world and keep the interests of the younger generations, it will have to keep up with new advancements in technology. While the older generations will appreciate the authenticity and traditional aspects of the museum, kids are slowly starting to lose interest.

3-D model of Blackbeard’s ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge.

An advancement that I believe would benefit the Maritime Museum would be to incorporate a virtual reality space. In the virtual reality kids and adults could be in a space where they feel like they are underwater swimming through and around the shipwrecks to get an up-close view as opposed to pictures or a video. Virtual reality headsets are popular among all ages and all cultures so they would be sure to draw in more visitors.