The Mariners’ Museum and Park Turns 90

June 2, 2020 marked the 90th birthday for The Mariners’ Museum and Park. It was incorporated on June 2, 1930. Many things have changed at the Museum and Park over the years, but one thing has remained the same: The institution is here to promote public welfare by encouraging the learning of all things maritime. 

The Mariners’ Museum and Park was a common vision between Archer Milton Huntington, son of Collis P. Huntington, who founded Newport News Shipbuilding, and Homer L. Ferguson, head of Newport News Shipbuilding at the time. 

In 1930, Huntington and his wife, sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington, used 800 acres of land surrounding Waters Creek in Newport News to develop a natural park and construct a dam, known as Lions Bridge, to create Lake Maury. The dedication to building the Museum and Park stemmed from the founders’ commitment to keeping the shipyard workers employed during the Great Depression.

The first purchases for the Museum collection were made in the early 1930s, and with the vision for an international collection, buyers were sent throughout Europe, the West Indies, and beyond. 

Five years ago, The Mariners’ Museum and Park renewed its mission statement: The Mariners’ Museum and Park connects people to the world’s waters, because through the waters–through our shared maritime heritage–we are connected to one another. It also rededicated itself to helping build a stronger community, locally and globally, centered around this connection.

The Museum charges only $1 per person for admission. This admission price allows everyone the opportunity to find their own connection to the world’s waters.

“The Museum has an incredibly powerful narrative about how we are bound together as a community: our shared connection to the water. In a time when we see daily reminders of the forces that tear at the fabric of our community, the Museum’s mission takes on even greater urgency,” said Howard Hoege, president and CEO of The Mariners’ Museum and Park. 

The Mariners’ Museum and Park is a distinctive landmark in Newport News. While the Museum and Park are currently closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the team is hard at work bringing its collection to people through unique and interactive virtual programs, blogs, stories on social media platforms, activities for kids to do outdoors in their own neighborhoods, and more.

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