The rise and fall of GulfQuest

The $60 million GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico closed in November 2016, after just 13 months in operation. Lagniappe's series of news stories, investigations, commentary and reviews raised questions about its feasibility before the doors even opened. BY LAGNIAPPE STAFF

The rise and fall of GulfQuest

GulfQuest’s myriad lessons

First order of business: If you’re going to GulfQuest National Maritime Museum, you’d best free up a sufficient section of your agenda — the better part of a day should suffice. You wouldn’t suspect it from the outside or the title alone, but there’s a lot more to GulfQuest than its name suggests. Cranes and cargo are a small slice of the focus in the building nestled riverside between the Arthur Outlaw Convention Center and the Alabama Cruise Terminal. A wide vision is evident in the impressive rotunda inside the front doors and its central attraction. Below a skylight...

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GulfQuest opens after years of delays

More than five years have passed and more than $60 million has been spent, but Sept. 26 marked the official opening of the GulfQuest National Maritime Museum on the bank of the Mobile River — billed as “the first museum dedicated to the Gulf Coast’s rich maritime traditions, and one of the only interactive maritime museums in the country.” The museum’s first day saw a little more than 1,300 guests come aboard, GulfQuest spokeswoman Diana Brewer wrote in an email Monday morning. Those figures included ticket sales, children under 5 years old and complimentary visitors. The museum celebrated its...

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GulfQuest ready for its debut

The massive Dallas Cowboys stadium that can hold 100,000 people, has a retractable roof and two 60-yard-long television screens took less time to build. At $62 million — $28 million of that city’s taxpayer money through two bond issues and $14.6 million in federal funding — it’s half-again as expensive as Connie Hudson’s soccer/swimming/water park complex dream. And it’s already been declared an abject failure by many citizens tired of the delayed openings and burned out by Mobile’s build-it-and-they-will-come approach to tourism. Despite all of that, GulfQuest is about to open. Properly known as (deep breath) GulfQuest National Maritime...

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GulfQuest attendance projections evaluated

When it opens on Saturday, Sept. 26, officials expect the GulfQuest National Maritime Museum to attract an average of more than 800 visitors a day, but attendance numbers from other maritime museums suggest that may be overly optimistic. A marketing study done in 2009, the same year ground was broken on the $60 million facility, estimated the museum’s average attendance would be 300,000 a year. Of those 300,000 visitors a year, 50,000 to 60,000 would be from school trips. Mobile Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Al Hutchinson told a crowd of onlookers during a ceremony announcing...

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GulfQuest set to open Saturday, Sept. 26

The blowing horns atop tugboats in Mobile River Thursday morning served as big sigh of relief for leaders involved with GulfQuest National Maritime Museum. After years of guessing, the museum board chairman E.B. Peebles joined Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson to unfurl a banner announcing Saturday, Sept. 26, as the official opening date for the only maritime museum dedicated to the Gulf of Mexico. Today’s announcement comes roughly six years after ground was broken on the structure, according to a GulfQuest statement. After the announcement, GulfQuest Executive Director Tony Zodrow, who has been personally involved with the project for 10...

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GulfQuest exterior glass will need to be ‘addressed’

Some of the exterior glass at the GulfQuest maritime museum might have to be replaced, although the work is not expected to further delay its opening. Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s Chief of Staff Colby Cooper confirmed Monday afternoon that “hundreds of scratches” to exterior glass he believes was installed during initial construction of the building will have to be “addressed.” Cooper said the scratches were discovered during a city walkthrough to examine items on a punch list related to building’s construction, a part of the city’s contract with GulfQuest. Cooper said at least some of the scratches must be fixed,...

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COVER STORY: Floating optimism: Taking a look inside GulfQuest National Maritime Museum

More than five years after ground was broken on the site between the western banks of the Mobile River and Water Street, many of the exhibits are in place and ready for display at GulfQuest National Maritime Museum. But with exhibit construction on the second and fourth floors still needed and buildout of the center’s gift shop remaining, Executive Director Tony Zodrow still won’t confirm an opening date for the facility that was highly anticipated before community patience started to grow thin. “We have 16 contractors working on exhibits,” he said. “In the next couple of months we’ll get...

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Board member: GulfQuest won’t ‘make March date’

Although crews are finishing up its fit-out, the GulfQuest National Maritime Museum grand opening may not be held until late spring, according to members of the museum’s Board of Trustees. If so, it would put the museum opening almost three years behind its original schedule. The latest reports pegged the museum opening in March, but Alabama Port Authority CEO and GulfQuest board member Jimmy Lyons said it would most likely open later than expected. “It’s probably going to be later in spring,” Lyons said. “It’s getting close, but I don’t think it’ll make the March date.” Lyons said GulfQuest...

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