National Coast Guard Museum is now more than possible, it is certain
Everyone at the National Coast Guard Museum Association was extremely excited and appreciative to see the vision of a National Coast Guard Museum in New London take a major step forward with the public announcement last week by Sen. Chris Murphy, chairman of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security. Receiving $50 million in museum construction funding in the Omnibus Bill signed this week by President Biden is a game changer. Pending our final permits and with this incredible support, we have targeted this summer to start our first phase of construction on the riverfront, with the goal of bidding museum construction by the end of this year.
We want to express our gratitude for every individual who has worked with us and continues to support this important project. The National Coast Guard Museum is now more than possible, it is certain.
We especially want to herald the work of our Connecticut delegation in bringing this national museum to our region. Years ago, Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Congressman Joe Courtney led the charge to change legislative language to authorize federal funding for this effort, consistent with federal resources allocated to the other national armed services museums. Sen. Murphy subsequently ensured that the Coast Guard was funded to begin exhibition design starting in 2017. In the development of the 2022 budget, Chairman Murphy initiated this funding opportunity, and Representatives Courtney and Rosa DeLauro provided the additional momentum to carry it through the House of Representatives. Securing this substantial additional federal support in the appropriation deserves to be recognized for what it is: a breakthrough for the campaign to build the National Coast Guard Museum.
With this funding, we are well on our way to build an institution worthy of the men and women who serve our Coast Guard with honor, respect and devotion to duty. We have $131 million in commitments toward the required $150 million, with the support of federal funding, a State of Connecticut grant and private donations. The site preparation phase will take approximately nine months and will lay the groundwork for construction of this waterfront museum and public access project between the business district and the riverwalk.
In 2014, the Connecticut delegation, state of Connecticut, city of New London and United States Coast Guard codified their vision for a transformative museum in the heart of Connecticut's Coast Guard City. The vision's key tenets include an iconic USCG-inspired design on the waterfront alongside the future home of America's Tall Ship, the USCG Barque EAGLE. The transfer of property from the city to the Coast Guard, siting the museum at the region's transportation hub, was a critical strategic element to attract the maximum number of museum visitors to this relatively rural area for a national museum. The state of Connecticut supported the region with investment in this economic driver in the downtown business district while improving pedestrian safety and ADA accommodations in this high foot-traffic area.
In the coming months, you will see a greater presence from the National Coast Guard Museum, as we share more detailed updates about how construction will proceed. For now, we celebrate this historic moment for the United States Coast Guard and the city of New London.
Susan J. Curtin is the chair and Wes Pulver is the president of the National Coast Guard Museum Association.