Much more than bricks and mortar

Published on August 24th, 2022

A museum is a structure that preserves and exhibits history, and while there are people of a certain age that may question why that’s better than the internet, it is the experience that can’t be questioned.

Becoming immersed in the exhibit is why we travel to national parks rather than look at photos and why we go for a sail rather than watch on video. You have to be there to feel it, to sense it, to know it.

The U.S. Coast Guard is taking that step by commencing construction of the National Coast Guard Museum to be located in New London, CT. With six floors and 80,000 square-foot exhibit space, the Coast Guard will join America’s other service branches – Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force in having a dedicated Museum when it opens in 2024.

Already celebrating their facility is The Sailing Museum which opened May 2022 to preserve the heritage of the sport and honor the individuals who shaped sailing. After a few months of footfall, Executive Director Heather Ruhsam shares her observations:

It’s hard to believe that it is already the second half of August! While some of our college-aged team members are headed back to school, there are also families just embarking on their summer vacations, looking to have fun and create memories that will be recalled for years to come.

I can attest to the latter personally having just had my own family visit – nephews aged 4 and 9. Donning their interactive wristbands, they raced for the doors to the museum. Boats were selected, named and they were off on their adventure!

The 9-year old (a camper at Sail Newport) was in absolute heaven – designing boats, inspecting the Opti and mesmerized by the immersive SailGP film. The 4-year old was immediately drawn to the tiller interactive, determined to steer ‘his’ boat into Hawaii. The museum I walk through daily became a new experience with them by my side.

This story is only unique in that it is my summer memory. It happens every day here at The Sailing Museum and is one of the things I love most. Witnessing two, three and four generations experience the museum together – engaging with each other and the exhibits – each taking away a different lesson learned and memory shared. It is that shared journey of exploration and discovery that makes the museum so much fun for families, of both kin and choice.

We say here that there is a magic that happens when wind and water meet, and it is evident on the faces of sailors and non-sailors alike as they step out of our world and back onto Thames Street.

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