Coast Guard exhibit at State Capitol offers preview of upcoming museum in New London – NBC Connecticut
Plans for a National Coast Guard Museum have been in the works for decades, but this year that vision is about to become a reality.
Now you can get an idea of what to expect at a Coast Guard exhibit at the State Capitol. The exhibition officially opens on Thursday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The Capitol is in turmoil as the legislative session begins. In the underground lobby between the Capitol and the Legislative Office Building, where there used to be blank walls, there is now an exhibit featuring the US Coast Guard.
“This is the culmination of about three to four months of work,” said Commander Krystyn Pecora, Coast Guard Academy External Affairs Officer.
Members of the Coast Guard installed the extensive exhibit on Tuesday. Half of the exhibit focuses on the organization’s work across the country.
“It only covers the basic origins of the creation of the Coast Guard in 1790 and gives you a bit of a timeline alluding to some of the organization’s milestone accomplishments,” said Petty Officer Third Class Matt Abban, officer of the Coast Guard Academy External Affairs. Public affairs specialist.
These achievements in international water policing and environmental protection.
“From law enforcement to search and rescue, to aids to navigation,” Abban said. “Ice is breaking up in the Arctic and all the way to Antarctica, just to clean up oil spills.”
The Coast Guard also has a huge responsibility to save lives.
“9/11, not everyone knows, but the organization actually moved 500,000 people from the Manhattan area to safety,” Abban said.
The other half of the exhibit is devoted to the Connecticut Coast Guard.
“It’s home to the Coast Guard Academy, as well as many units, and the Coast Guard has actually called Connecticut home since 1791,” Pecora said. “Our first revenue cutter was stationed in New London. We are proud to call Connecticut our home.”
The 240-foot exhibit is just a preview of what’s to come at the five-story, 80,000-square-foot museum in New London.
“We like to say there will be five bridges and thousands of stories,” said Drew Forster, director of communications for the National Coast Guard Museum Association.
Renderings from the National Coast Guard Museum Association show plans for the museum, which is in the final stages of licensing. The project must go through an additional environmental assessment at the federal level and dredging permits must be approved by the state.
“We hope that we can innovate in this museum this year,” said Forster.
It’s a $150 million project, funded by $30 million federal dollars and $20 million state dollars, plus fundraising.
“We’re over halfway there, we’re actually over $81 million toward that goal,” Forster said.
He adds that the National Coast Guard Museum is expected to contribute $10 million to New London’s economy each year.
Once the museum is complete, guests will be able to visit five themed wings.
“I’m really in love with the Katrina exhibit,” Forster said. “This will be an immersive exhibit to really make people understand the Coast Guard’s role in serving people during this natural disaster.”
The museum will also focus on STEM technology and activities for children.
“Young people will be able to come in and capture a vision for perhaps a future career in the Coast Guard,” Forster said.
State Representative Anthony Nolan, 39and District of New London, helped facilitate the Capitol exhibit.
“This is exactly the type of exhibit we need to put on all over Connecticut to show people how great the Coast Guard is,” Nolan said.
He believes a museum will bring value to New London.
“I really do,” Nolan said. “I think it will bring hundreds of thousands of people to this area and help our economy grow.”
Coast Guard members also look forward to this honor and hope the exhibits will inspire the next generation.
“We are so overwhelmed with the opportunity to introduce the Coast Guard and its history to the people of Connecticut,” Pecora said. “We are really, really grateful that Connecticut takes the time to honor our service.”
Some people who live in New London oppose the building of the National Coast Guard Museum in the city center and raised an objection to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection last summer.
The complaint cites concerns that the museum would have a negative impact on future developments on the coast and water activities, and that there are other places that would have less damage to the environment.
In August, DEEP responded that the museum’s development plan is consistent with Connecticut’s coastal management policies, which are approved by the federal government. Some aquatic feature plans still require separate approval.
Forster said the National Coast Guard Museum Association was not considering moving the location, and the Coast Guard chose the location because three million people pass through downtown each year.
The Coast Guard exhibit at the Capitol will be on display for three weeks.