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Jacksonville Maritime Museum Headed To Salvage Yard

banner inside museum
Ryan Benk

After 28 years in operation, the Jacksonville Maritime Heritage Center says it will decommission its museum inside the Jacksonville Landing by the end of the year.

Museum board members are scrambling to ship artifacts to their original owners and other area exhibits.

Paul Ghiotto is the curator of the Jacksonville Maritime Heritage Center. Several detailed, large-scale models of U.S. destroyer ships are on display at the museum’s converted retail space in the Jacksonville Landing.  

Ghiotto, a Navy veteran, said the museum’s board began sending a distress signal to the city a year ago about dwindling funds.

“We’ve got a bit of money left, let’s just stretch it out, and we’re on a bare bones budget here, let’s stretch it out to the end of 2015 and see if something doesn't unfold,” he said.

Nothing did unfold, and now he says the museum, which includes artifacts spanning 453 years of First Coast maritime history, is set to sink.

If Ghiotto can’t find the donated artifacts’ original owners, and no other museum is willing to take them, they’ll go to auction.

He said any proceeds from auction sales will go to help other museums stay open.

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.