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Plans to Revamp the Seaport Museum Are Moving Forward

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[The Seaport Museum earlier this year; Photo via f11photo / Shutterstock.com]

Here's some good news for the South Street Seaport Museum: A Wall Street Journal profile of Jonathan Boulware, the newly appointed director of the museum (he assumed the post in April) has some nuggets about the future of the beleaguered institution. Thanks to a $10.4 million grant from FEMA, the museum will finally be able to repair the damage it sustained during Hurricane Sandy. Additionally, the museum is in the process of revamping the Wavertree, an iron sailing ship built in the 19th century, so that it can be used for educational programming, weddings, and more; the city contributed $10.6 million to that project, which is set to be completed in 2016.

It hasn't been an easy few years for the waterfront institution: Even before Hurricane Sandy, the museum was in dire financial straits, with the Museum of the City of New York assuming operations in 2011.

The post-Sandy damage to the Seaport Museum ultimately proved to be too much of a financial burden for MCNY, and the two institutions severed ties in 2013. Since then, the fate of the maritime museum has been uncertain, even as extensive (and contentious) redevelopment plans have been put in place for the rest of the Seaport. In December, the museum received confirmation that it wouldn't get booted from its current location in historic Schermerhorn Row, but concerns about its place in the transformed Seaport remain.

Earlier this month, the Howard Hughes Corporation announced the creation of the Seaport Culture District, with institutions like the Guggenheim Museum, HarperCollins Publishers, and the Center for Architecture collaborating on a series of public programs and exhibitions taking place in the neighborhood's historic buildings. The event launched on August 24, but before that, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council member Margaret Chin drafted a letter to the mayor's office, protesting what they say is "the absence of the Seaport Museum and other local entities in this endeavor and in the programming of the public spaces in general." This came after the neighborhood as a whole was named to the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of the most endangered historic places in America, which cited HHC's redevelopment plans as a key factor in the Seaport's current historic vulnerability.

For its part, HHC has stated that its plans for the Seaport—which include a possible 40-story tower and a glassy new mall—are meant to "celebrate[s] the area's rich history by creating a vibrant Seaport District while also preserving its historic fabric and architecture," with the Seaport Museum as a key element.
· The Seaport Museum Rights Itself [WSJ]
· All South Street Seaport Museum Coverage [Curbed]

South Street Seaport Museum

12 Fulton Street, Manhattan, NY 10038 (212) 748-8600 Visit Website

Pier 17

89 South Street, Manhattan, NY 10038 Visit Website