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 years, mentioned the idea for the museum goes back to 1993, when the board of trustees was incorporated.
“For the board, this has been a 22-year journey,” Zodrow said. “It’s a great sense of relief.”
The museum, which represents a $62.3 million investment, is about 85 percent complete, he said. Left to be completed included the installation of some of the exhibits as well as the cafeteria and the gift shop.
Peebles also said he was relieved to be able to announce an opening date.
“It was tough,” he said. “It’s all there, it’s all done and it’s really exciting.”
When opened, visitors will be able to peruse 90 exhibits, theaters and other activities it has to offer, according to a GulfQuest statement.
Mobile Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Al Hutchinson told a crowd of onlookers that he believes the museum will be a “tide that lifts all ships.”
Citing a tourism study, Hutchinson said the museum is project to attract 300,000 visitors a year, 75 percent of which will be tourists.
“It will help other attractions be just as great,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson also cited research from the University of South Alabama, which projected the museum would have an economic impact of $19 million.
“All of us citizens need to be excited about this venue,” he said.