First Ever National Museum Devoted to the US Coast Guard Sets Sail in New London, CT

Posted by Rachel S on Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Coast Guard museum rendering

The Coast Guard is a highly valuable, but little lauded branch of the US armed forces that is the only branch that doesn’t have a national museum all its own. But that’s about to change. The Coast Guard has been around since 1790, so that’s a lot of history to house in their new museum but it’s a big space that’s been designed to house more than two centuries of art, artifacts and historical materials. That stated purpose of the museum is to respect the past, engage the present and look to the future.

Coast Guard museum design

Part of this is to educate the public on the role of Coast Guard because most people don’t realize the staggering scope of what they do to keep us safe. You most likely think of the Coast Guard as those brave souls that come to the rescue of boaters in storms, but they are also deeply involved in Homeland Security, Drug Enforcement and defense. The Coast Guard is also the only branch of the Armed Forces that has law enforcement capabilities as well. Pretty impressive all around – as is the museum designed to honor the brave men and women of the Coast Guard.

Home of National Coast Guard Museum

The museum will be on the waterfront in New London and the nearby pier has room to accommodate The US Coast Guard Eagle, the iconic cutter where officers train. The location makes perfect sense – New London has long been associated with the Guard as their service academy is located there. The design reflects the maritime nature of its occupants without outright looking like a faux ship and is embued with sustainable elements which reflect the Guard’s eco-conscious outlook.

Symbolic groundbreaking at CG Museum

Some of the design elements include a four story naturally lit atrium, south facing glass facade, exhibit halls, lecture space, workshop, special exhibit area, a hall, cafe, lounge and gift shop. White structures, glass and natural light are recurring elements throughout the museum. Museum visitors will enjoy expansive views of the Thames River, City Pier, Waterfront Park and the river area down toward Long Island Sound.

CG museum atrium

The prow-like area offers a terrace on the top floor that calls to mind the deck of a ship, exposed to air and sky with a view of the water. Also in other rooftop areas, there are solar power and other sustainable design equipment and elements. In total, there will be more than 54,000 square feet of event and exhibit space.

Aerial view of Coast Guard museum model

The project actually encompasses three different projects that can be completed in separate stages – the museum itself, a new ferry terminal and a pedestrian overpass connecting the museum and terminal. The Coast Guard Museum Association is still fundraising – click here to find out how to donate – but the city has handed over the property deed and the symbolic groundbreaking took place in early May.

image sources: CT.gov, Public Broadcasting.net, TheDay.com

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