Plans for the first-ever national museum dedicated to the U.S. Coast Guard are gaining momentum, and construction could begin within two years.
Organizers with the nonprofit National Coast Guard Museum Association are working to raise $50 million in private donations for the estimated $100 million center planned for New London, Conn. The state of Connecticut has pledged $20 million and organizers are hoping for $30 million in federal money.
Master Chief Petty Officer Jeff Creighton, a retired Coast Guardsman who works for the association, said there are many small-scale regional museums the country has dedicated to the Coast Guard, often in lighthouses or old Coast Guard stations. But there is no national museum celebrating the branch’s history and contributions since its founding 226 years ago.
“Since its inception in 1790, the Coast Guard has established a proud and illustrious history which deserves recognition from the public, who may be unaware of the scale and scope of Coast Guard operations,” the association said in its 2015 annual report.
National CG Museum Assoc.
“The museum will change all of that and finally help recognize the Coast Guard as an equal partner with America’s best-in-the-world military branches,” it continued.
The new museum will feature thousands of historic Coast Guard artifacts, many of which are currently stored in Maryland warehouses or loaned to museums around the country. It will feature modern exhibits and use the waterfront campus for interactive attractions.
The groundbreaking for the new museum is tentatively planned for 2018, and it is scheduled to open in 2020. Details about the new center’s design, size and footprint will be released in the coming months. Organizers expect the museum will draw 500,000 people in its first year and 250,000 a year afterward.
Donations and pledges from individuals, businesses and foundations have already generated more than $7 million. The museum association has now established a “Plankowner” program to honor people and organizations that make recurring pledges.
For more information on the proposed museum, or to contribute, visit coastguardmuseum.org.