Reimagined hurricane exhibit to debut at maritime museum

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North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport (Photo: Facebook)

SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) — The updated hurricane exhibit at the N.C. Maritime Museum in Southport debuts just days shy of the 65th anniversary of Hurricane Hazel’s landfall.

The museum, located at 204 E. Moore St. in Southport, will officially debut the redesigned and enhanced hurricane exhibit from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12 in the museum’s gallery.

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In addition to the updated exhibit, the museum will provide Hazel-specific programs and information in the gallery that day as the Horrific Hazel portion of its ongoing hurricane series. Hurricane Hazel crashed ashore near the border between North and South Carolina as a powerful category 4 storm on Oct. 15, 1954.

“This exhibit is definitely not a traditional history exhibit,” the museum’s education curator, Katy Menne, said. “We want it to be hands-on and for you to grasp and take from it what you experience, let it be open to interpretation.”

The new and updated displays that include interactives, first-hand accounts and more designed to provide a more immersive experience than a typical museum display.

“It definitely gets people involved,” Menne said.

The same can be said of the exhibit’s installation. In addition to museum staff and volunteers, Habitat for Humanity volunteers lent a hand throughout the process, which included removing the boat model display, taking down hangings and putting the new pieces in place.

The hurricane exhibit starts at the physical turning point of the museum’s gallery, the physical transformations aligning with the interpretive shifts. Visitors will start with a look at the history and facts of hurricanes along the coast — the timelines, the damages — then explore the emotional and personal impact of the 12 big storms that have hit the Cape Fear region of North Carolina — how people felt, how they prepared, what their advice is.

“We’ve created an exhibit that really focuses on an emotional aspect of living through hurricanes,” Menne said. “And we end on such a positive note of resiliency. We’re trying to show that coastal communities still bounce back.”

The museum’s Commemorating Hurricane Hazel series, monthly programs that coincide with hurricane season, wraps up on Nov. 25 with Hurricane Headache, which features a panel presentation with professional restoration and recovery personnel offering tips and advice on moving forward after a storm. Hurricane Headache will be from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Southport Community Building, 223 E. Bay St.

For more information on the hurricane series or the N.C. Maritime Museum at Southport, visit or call 910-477-5150.