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East End Adds Nautical Attraction: Houston Maritime Museum New Location Now Open

Take a voyage without leaving the dock. Houston Maritime Museum (HMM) unveiled an emblematic interactive mural of a large ocean liner on the façade of its new building in the Eastside of Houston located on Navigation and Canal Boulevard in the East End. At the helm of the project was muralist Anthony Rose and David Maldonado his collaborator. Guests are encouraged to take pictures in this oversized postcard and make their own stories.

After a six-month closure while HMM renovated its new space, the museum reopened its doors on January 22, 2019, to new tour groups and capacity crowds. The first tour included a group of 60 schoolchildren, followed by a sold-out evening lecture, The Reason We Are All Here: A Historical View of Buffalo Bayou. The first Family Day event drew over 250 people.

Photo Credit: Alex Bowlin

The museum was first established in 2000 by James “Jim” L. Manzolillo, a Houston architect who traveled extensively around the world collecting artifacts. He began channeling his resources to create a museum focused on the history of maritime and Houston’s place in it. Today, visitors are able to share in his collection and experiences while learning about the history of ships and sea exploration.

Video by Ivan Cortez in collaboration with United by Design Creative Agency

Museum director, Leslie Bowlin, shares the museum has taken a transformational journey from its origins. “Visitors experience the maritime world as they travel along a timeline from past to present. This journey highlights key maritime advancements in Houston and concludes with the Port of Houston, which is the busiest port in the U.S., the largest port on the Gulf Coast and one of the largest ports in the world.”

In 2014, the East End of Houston was designated by the Texas Commission of the Arts as a cultural district. As home to 25 mural sites, the idea of creating a mural on one of the outside walls of HMM’s new space was a perfect fit. “We wanted to communicate the move to a new location using a maritime theme,” explained Bowlin, “so the logical idea was to use an ocean liner for our ‘voyage.'”

“The original ‘port of origin’ was tight and restricted our growth,” said Bowlin. “We saw less than 5,000 visitors a year in that space. This larger interim location will allow us to invite and educate more visitors.”

The maritime museum will be “docked” in the new location for a few years until a completely new 58,000 SF complex is built close to the banks of the Buffalo Bayou in the East End.

The community is invited to join HMM’s upcoming events. The annual gala, Set Sail with Houston Maritime Museum, follows and is scheduled for May 17 that will take place on the museum grounds.

This story is funded in part by the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance.


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