This past weekend, the Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center in Newport celebrated its Grand Opening. This museum incorporates Newport’s working wharf, has interactive education programs, and houses an eclectic assortment of juried art plus other maritime related items. The Center wants to honor the central Oregon coast’s rich maritime history with its many exhibits and artifacts.
Once a private residence, and later after extensive remodeling and expansion, a local restaurant and nightclub, this property has had a varied and divergent past. Several years ago, the Lincoln County Historical Society took on the project of restoring this pristine antique. With the aid of grants and personal donations, plus untold amounts of volunteer hours, community involvement and fundraisers, the Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center now joins a cadre of maritime museums dotting our coastline.
Recently several friends and I took a pre-opening tour of the nearly 29,000 square foot facility with Lincoln County Historical Society’s Executive Director, Steve Wyatt. When I’d toured this building four years ago, the floors were just plywood, the light fixtures were dingy and old, and there was a general air of disuse to the property. Now, visitors enter a welcoming lobby area complete with freshly painted structures, newly installed lighting and an array of interesting and historical pictures, sculptures and marine related items.
In keeping with the “green is mean” philosophy of Oregon, the Maritime Museumis now sporting tiles of recycled rubber on the roof deck which will enable visitors to enjoy an incredible panoramic view of the Bay front. Almost all the lighting will consist of LED or CFL lighting, and much of the wood incorporated into the rooms has been repurposed from elsewhere.
Mombetsu, Newport’s sister city in Japan participated in the celebration by sending lovely colorful flags to display in the vaulted areas of the building.
The first exhibit, “Ship to Shore: Objects of a Maritime Community” includes items such as surf boards, anchors, fishing equipment, maritime artwork and more. This is really a heterogeneous collection …things that on a personal level our local residents think of as “representing life in a coastal community.”
If you want further information on the history of the fishing industry, seafood processing, maritime research and more, this museum is the place to visit.
For those who visit us from faraway places, where the smell of salt air, the cool breezes blowing off the ocean, and the vision of a fishing fleet is foreign, the Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center will be somewhat like entering a new world. For those of us for whom salt, sea and sand are an integral part of our lives….ah well, we feel so fortunate!
Submitted by: Kim Voetberg