COROLLA — A major new attraction on the Currituck Outer Banks is open.
County officials celebrated the opening of the Currituck Maritime Museum last week with a ribbon cutting ceremony before the first guests filed through the doors of the almost 9,000-square-foot facility.
The county’s latest tourist attraction features artifacts and exhibits chronicling Currituck’s maritime history.
“We are so excited to show the history of our maritime past,” said County Commissioner Selina Jarvis.
The Maritime Museum is located in Historic Corolla Park next to the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education and across the boat basin from Whalehead, the 1920s art nouveau mansion built by Edward and Marie Louise Knight.
The museum includes 12 historic boats, artifacts, photographs and exhibits that tell the story of Currituck’s rich and long maritime history for both recreation and business.
Some of the boats on display are in their original condition while others are restored, but all were either built or used in Currituck.
“Our way of life in Currituck County has been molded by the waterways that surround us — from our mode of transportation and travel to the recreation activities we enjoy,” said Museum Manager Chandler Sawyer. “It’s always been an important part of our heritage and we’re excited to share those stories.”
The museum will also feature interactive exhibits on knot tying, navigation exercises and boat building exercises along with an interactive map table. Visitors duck decoy carving demonstrations will be given regularly.
“This tells the story how they made their living off the water,” said County Manager Ben Stikeleather. “We are excited to be able to tell that story.”
County officials broke ground on the $4.3 million museum in October 2019. The museum was funded with revenues from the county’s 6% occupancy tax.
The wildlife center next door to the Maritime Museum educates the public on the wildlife, natural resources and the history of Currituck in the waters surrounding the county.
The Whalehead showcases a time when wealthy industrialists came to Currituck to hunt its waters while building numerous duck hunting clubs on the Currituck Outer Banks and on Knotts Island, a pastime that still exists today.
“The county has a long history of boating and hunting and fishing,” said Commissioner Paul Beaumont. “It has always been a part of life in Currituck County. This effort began many, many years ago to preserve our heritage and the history of the county. This museum is the culmination of years of work.’’