Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian reported to City Council on Thursday night that the city is exploring the possibility of moving the Ocean City Historical Museum.
The museum is currently housed within the Ocean City Community Center at 17th Street and Simpson Avenue — along with the Ocean City Free Public Library, the Ocean City Aquatics and Fitness Center, the Ocean City Arts Center and the Howard S. Stainton Senior Center.
The city is considering moving the museum to the second floor of the Stainton’s building on the 800 block of Asbury Avenue. The former department store building sits at the heart of Ocean City’s downtown shopping district.
“A museum should be somewhere where guests can visit and where we can really promote it,” Gillian said.
He said the concept would include integrating the Ocean City Beach Patrol museum currently housed on the first floor of the Bayside Center (on the bay between Fifth and Sixth streets) and a collection of surfboards and surf memorabilia from the Matera family (Joe Matera was a popular member of the Ocean City surfing community and founder of the FCA Surf Camp who died of cancer at the age of 55 in 2013).
At 20,000 square feet, the space could accommodate the Historical Museum and the beach patrol and surfing collections, and give them all room to grow with new additions.
Gillian’s report came in response to a query from Councilman Pete Guinosso about what was going on with the museum.
Gillian said the city was in the very preliminary stages of examining the merits of the idea, and he said the museum would not have to move if it didn’t agree a move would be advantageous.
Richard Stanislaw, the museum board’s president, said the museum has not decided yet.
He said the board of trustees is divided as they continue discussions about the merits of each site and weigh the availability of more space against the challenges and cost of moving.
He said Museum Executive Director Jeff McGranahan would face a job requiring enormous care if he were tasked with moving the museum’s collection.
At the museum, McGranahan seemed excited about the possibilities of having more space and of being able to encourage new contributions.
Gillian did not say what the city’s plans for the space at the Community Center would be, if the museum were to move.
“We are internally exploring some exciting options for the space,” Community Services Director Kristen Gallagher said on Friday.
Guinosso said Friday that he’d prefer to see the museum stay put. He cited the availability of parking as one primary reason.
At Thursday night’s meeting, City Council President Tony Wilson gave a nod of support to the idea of a move dowtown.
“I do like the idea of having all our history under one roof,” Wilson said.