Mystic Seaport Museum announced today proposed changes to its grounds that will advance the Museum’s role as a leader in the maritime heritage field.
The three projects include construction of an underwater research and education center in partnership with the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration (GFOE), the expansion of public display of its watercraft collection, and construction of a restaurant and boutique hotel.
The Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration is a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose headquarters is currently on the Mystic Seaport Museum campus. GFOE designs, builds, and operates some of the most advanced underwater technologies used for scientific exploration. GFOE proposes to create an Underwater Research and Education Center on land to be leased from the Museum next to the James T. Carlton Marine Science Center. Phase One of this facility will house a work area for the research and development of underwater technologies. In addition, GFOE will provide interactive, hands-on displays in the Museum’s Clift Block building, which will demonstrate to Museum visitors and school groups some of the cutting-edge technologies that GFOE uses in ocean exploration. Phase Two will include a pool for testing underwater robots and other technologies, while providing a space for hands-on activities for students and the public.
One consequence of possessing the nation’s largest collection of historic watercraft is the challenge of finding the room to store and display it. Presently, 460 of the more than 500 historic vessels are stored in the Collections Research Center across the street from the main campus. Due to its configuration, public access is limited to occasional public viewing events, scheduled tours, and research visits by appointment. The plan calls for the conversion of 38,000 square feet of warehouse storage in the center to exhibit space suitable for the display of boats in the collection. This permanent exhibit will feature a rotating selection of watercraft and be open to Museum visitors on a daily basis.
The new hall will fulfill a longstanding desire on the part of the Museum to provide greater public access to the watercraft collection.
The proposed restaurant and hotel is being developed in partnership with Greenwich Hospitality Group and would be built on the site of Latitude 41° Restaurant & Tavern. The present building is not a historic structure. It was built by the Museum in 1964 as the Seamen’s Inne Restaurant & Pub.
Plans call for the demolition of Latitude 41° and the construction of a 20-25 room hotel with a restaurant and event space. The new building will continue the Museum’s role as a superior venue for weddings, corporate meetings, and group events in the Mystic area and the restaurant will provide a fine-dining destination for Museum visitors and the public. The building will be set farther back on the property from Route 27.
“We are excited to announce these three strategic initiatives, which will add significantly to the visitor experience of the Museum, support and share the important work of the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration, and provide new sources of revenue to help sustain Museum operations,” said Steve White, president of Mystic Seaport Museum.
Mystic Seaport Museum is located within a Maritime Heritage District in the Town of Stonington. The Museum submitted an amendment to its master plan to the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission to address the proposed projects.