$10 Million Dollar Endowment Awarded to The Mariners’ Museum and Park

The Mariners’ Museum and Park is thrilled to announce that it has received the largest individual gift in its almost 90-year history. The Batten Foundation has committed $10 million to endow the Museum’s signature access initiative – $1 Admission. This gift will ensure the long-term sustainability of $1 Admission at the Museum.

The Mariners’ Museum $1 Admission initiative is core to the Museum’s mission:

We connect people to the world’s waters, because that is how we are connected to one another.”

The Museum selected $1 for its admission fee to underscore this important idea: through the water, we are one city, one region, one nation, one world – one dollar. Access to the Museum and the stories told by its collection are key to the Museum’s strategy to execute on its mission. By lowering the barrier to entry to $1 per person, the Museum helps to clear the way for people of all backgrounds to find their own connection to the world’s waters and, ultimately, to each other.

In August 2016, The Mariners’ Museum lowered admission to one dollar for the month. 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. Because of the success and positive results, the Museum continued $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% increase in overall visitation since the $1 Admission experiment began.

Howard Hoege, the Museum’s President and CEO, explains, “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. Simply put, we can all trace our heritage back to the water and that makes us all connected, unique together, as one human race.”

The Batten Foundation was moved, in part, to make this commitment by Tom Hunnicutt’s passing earlier this year. Frank Batten, Sr., and Tom Hunnicutt served together on The Mariners’ Museum Board of Trustees and formed a strong friendship based on their mutual love of sailing. 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.

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.

“By virtue of its match, the Batten Foundation has not only ensured the Museum’s permanent commitment to this significant initiative, it has opened the door to even more support for the Museum’s other important initiatives around educational programs for school-aged children, conservation of the Museum’s world class collection, and stewardship of The Mariners’ Museum Park and Noland Trail on behalf of our community. We are humbled and honored by this gift and are using it as motivation to do even more to serve our Hampton Roads community,” Hoege added.

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