The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News has received what officials say is the “largest individual gift in its almost 90-year history,” that would sustain its $1 admission.
The gift: $10 million committed by The Batten Foundation, museum officials said.
The museum lowered admission to $1 for the month in August 2016. The experiment yielded a dramatic increase in the diversity of people visiting the museum, in the number of kids present in the galleries, and in overall visitation numbers, officials said.
Because of that success the museum continued the $1 admission for each of the next two summers before permanently adopting the low entry fee in November of 2018.
The Museum has seen a 19 percent increase in overall visitation since the $1 Admission experiment began, officials said.
“Our Museum team is saying, through $1 Admission, that we are here to serve everyone in our community, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, socioeconomic status – all of the ways in which we sometimes feel different than others,” said Howard Hoege, the museum’s President and CEO, in a news release. “Simply put, we can all trace our heritage back to the water and that makes us all connected, unique together, as one human race.”
Museum officials said The Batten Foundation was moved, in part, to make this commitment by Tom Hunnicutt’s death earlier this year.
Frank Batten, Sr., and Hunnicutt served together on The Mariners’ Museum Board of Trustees.
“The Batten Foundation makes this commitment, in large part, to honor that friendship and the decades of service and leadership that Tom Hunnicutt provided The Mariners’ Museum,” museum officials wrote in a news release.
While the Batten Foundation will make an initial $5 million contribution in 2020, the second $5 million will be on a matching basis.
Once the Museum has raised an additional $5 million in other endowment gifts, the Batten Foundation will release the other half of the $10 million endowment,” officials said.