Museum lines up full program schedule for 2019

Sometimes you never know when inspiration will strike.

The Beaufort Ole Town Rotary invited N.C. Maritime Museum Associate Curator Ben Wunderly to speak on the museum’s history. Wunderly spent some time researching the background and crafting a presentation for the club.

And then he took it public.

“I found it pretty interesting, so I thought that everyone would like to see it,” Wunderly said.

Wunderly recently presented “The History of the Museum” for the first time to the general public as part of the regular Brown Bag Gam series, informal lectures where attendees are invited to bring a lunch, come by the museum and learn more about our maritime culture and history. The program is free, and registration is not required. Just grab your lunch and drop in.

The debut of “The History of the Museum” is just one of the programs and events to look forward to in 2019 at the N.C. Maritime Museum. The museum is located at 315 Front St. in downtown Beaufort — something, Wunderly explained, that was not always the case.

“A lot of people think of the museum as always being here on Front Street,” he said.

But, as Wunderly uncovered, the museum was housed on Pivers Island in the early 1900s and then later shuttled between Morehead City and Beaufort when it was without a permanent home, set up in a Morehead City site and then relocated to Beaufort in the 1970s in what is now Cru on Turner Street. The museum opened at its current location in the 1980s.

“A lot of the information (on the museum’s history) was in different places, but I had to find and put it together,” Wunderly said.

He said he’s still researching the history of many of the early artifacts housed in the museum’s earlier incarnations, including what was in the collections and where they came from, but is eager to share the information he has already uncovered.

On the exhibit side of things, the year was off to an early start in December with the debut of Golden Pirates of the Silver Screen, which features costumes, posters, props and merchandise representing pirate-themed movies. The showcase piece is the Blackbeard costume worn by Ian McShane in the 2011 film Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The exhibit is expected to remain in place beyond the end of the year; however, the Blackbeard costume is on loan from the Walt Disney Archives only through November.


There’s no shortage of continued activity in 2019 at the Harvey C. Smith Watercraft Center.

But Boat Builder Tim White is ready for more.

White said he is in the process of designing a kit for a kids’ build-your-own stand-up paddle board course to accompany the adult program already in place. That latter course — along with courses where participants will build a lift half-model of a North Carolina shad boat, a stitch-and-glue kayak/canoe or a SUP paddle, kayak paddle or pair of oars — will continue to be offered on a request basis. To schedule one, contact Museum Registrar Frances Hayden at 252-504-7758.

Another program planned to debut this year is a family boatbuilding weekend. At the end of the course, families will have completed an International Optimist Dinghy, the craft recognized worldwide as the sail-training and competition boat for youth ages 8 to 15 and as ideal for teaching sailing to beginners. It’s the same style boat used in the Friends of the N.C. Maritime Museum Junior Sailing Program.

“There are millions of these boats out there with kids sailing them,” he said.

White said he also expects the restoration of a 1937 Barbour Work Boat started in November to be completed this summer. And there are always smaller projects on the museum’s collection of boats — and on boats that belong to other nonprofits and even individuals — going on at any given time.

“I like to have two to three projects ongoing in the shop for volunteers to keep busy and give visitors something to see,” he said.


The N.C. Maritime Museum continues into 2019 with programs, events and activities offered all-year long. In addition to the regularly scheduled Merry Time for Tots for ages 2 to 5 (which returned to the calendar after a hiatus last year) and the Brown Bag Gams offered in the shoulder seasons, there are programs that take attendees out into the field and on the water for such activities as bird watching, hiking, kayaking and more. Summer Science School will kick off in June with sessions held on a morning schedule for age groups in preschool to 10th grade. And planning is, of course, underway for the Annual Wooden Boat Show, the Southeast’s longest running wooden boat show. This year’s show will be held May 4 with activities and events scheduled May 2 to 5.

For more information on the museum and its schedule of events, visit

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