The Sailing Museum officially opened its doors to the public on May 10, 2022. Located on the waterfront of downtown Newport in the historic Armory Building built in 1894, the museum offers an innovative multimedia experience.
An educational and cultural non-profit organization, The Sailing Museum features the National Sailing Hall of Fame and America’s Cup Hall of Fame. In the space once used as the Press Room for the America’s Cup, the heritage of sailing is now being celebrated, the legends of the sport honored, and new sailors and innovators inspired. In addition to the Halls of Fame, The Sailing Museum features a mix of high- and low-tech interactive exhibits that share the principles of sailing, provides seasoned sailors with opportunities to test their skills and knowledge and connects new sailors with resources to get started on their sailing journey.
A collaborative design effort led by award-winning Healy Kohler Design, The Sailing Museum offers sailing enthusiasts the chance to revel in their sport and new sailors to be enticed to take to the water for the first time. The personalized museum journey begins with the selection of a boat. For sailors, they can select from one of seven; while those experiencing sailing for the first time will be given the option of a short quiz that will help them select a boat. For all, this boat will become their avatar throughout their museum experience, guiding them through the interactive elements, and offering the chance to build skills and earn virtual rewards. The first floor of the museum is divided into six thematic areas: Wind & Water; The Making of a Sailor: Mental; The Making of a Sailor: Physical; Teamwork; Competition; and Legends of Sailing – National Sailing Hall of Fame & America’s Cup Hall of Fame. The second floor is home to additional exhibits and a private lounge honoring Hall of Famers.
Embedded with ‘stealth learning’, exhibits provide real-world applications of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) concepts that come alive through sailing. These five disciplines are used in everyday activities, promoting problem solving, and creative and analytical thinking in a more open-ended way and make them applicable to real life. Formal and informal educational programming will be layered into the experience throughout the year.
“The museum is Newport and Rhode Island’s newest cultural institution and tourist attraction and is directly tied to the heritage and identity of the Ocean State,” said Heather Ruhsam, Executive Director, The Sailing Museum. “Opening the museum fulfills a longstanding vision of the organization’s founders. A dream 17 years in the making, made possible by the work and support of so many individuals who came together to make this truly stunning location a reality. The Sailing Museum is not only intended to preserve the history of the sport, but to educate and inspire future sailors and innovators.”
“Our new home will be a feast for the senses, harnessing technology to bring the excitement of sailing to life and honoring our sport’s heroes in exciting and innovative ways,” said Gus Carlson, President of the National Sailing Hall of Fame. “Our goal is to create a special place that engages everyone, from our sport’s faithful to casual sailors to newcomers who are curious about what happens when wind and water meet. We are confident The Sailing Museum will be a unique venue to showcase our sport and the accomplishments of its heroes.”
“In The Sailing Museum, sailing has a home that trumpets its achievements and inspires generations to excel on the water, and to serve the sport,” said Gary Jobson, Hall of Famer and Board Member. “The memorable moments in our sport are countless, and unless there is a common place to preserve these memories, we’re in danger of losing the relevance of sailing’s past and future.”
“Sailing is an activity without limits,” said Betsy Alison, Hall of Famer and United States Paralympic Sailing Team Coach. “The Sailing Museum stresses the inclusivity of the sport and is a venue that celebrates the passion that drives people to take to the water. I am confident that the exhibits here will educate and entertain visitors of all abilities or interests.”
“I am lucky indeed to be a member of both the National Sailing Hall of Fame and the America’s Cup Hall of Fame,” said Tom Whidden, Executive Chairman, North Technology Group. “What an honor it will be to sit alongside so many accomplished people, who have achieved so much in our sport, presented in this incredible new facility in Newport. For anyone, of any age, who loves to sail, The Sailing Museum will be a must visit.”
A ribbon cutting ceremony took place Friday, May 6 from 10:30 a.m. to noon, to which the public was invited to attend. Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Matos was in attendance and the Governor provided remarks alongside other dignitaries.
Beginning May 10 through the summer season, The Sailing Museum will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tickets will be offered at $18, with discounts for seniors, students and military, and children 10 and under will enjoy the museum free of charge. In keeping with their goal to increase access to the sport and create an inclusive environment to learn, The Sailing Museum is a member of the Museums for All program, which provides reduced admission to low-income visitors at over 800 museums in the country. Tickets for visitors participating in the SNAP program will be $2.
For more information on The Sailing Museum, to buy tickets or to learn more about annual memberships, please visit thesailingmuseum.org.