History of the Texas Maritime Museum

Texas Maritime Museum anchor

The history of the Texas Maritime Museum can be traced back to the late 1970’s at the Rockport annual Seafair Festival. Maritime enthusiasts would bring out their personal collections of motors, fishing equipment and mounted fish for the public’s view. The establishment of the Museum was a community wide project headed by a few dedicated members. The Texas Maritime Museum opened its doors on July 1, 1989.

In 1987 the Texas Legislature named the Texas Maritime Museum the official Maritime Museum of the State of Texas, re-stated in perpetuity in 2007. The Museum is a designated 501(c)3 non-profit, however, we receive no state or federal funds and rely on the generosity of our patrons and members as well as four annual fundraisers.

August 5, 2005 marks the Museum’s accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums, a significant accomplishment in our history. The Texas Maritime Museum met the highest standard of excellence and achievement through leadership, professional operation, continued commitment to institutional improvement, and public service and accountability through fulfillment of our mission. Less than 5 percent of all museums in Texas have received accreditation.

The completion of the Robert J. Hewitt/ O’Connor Hewitt Foundation Maritime Collections and Education Center was the next phase in the museum’s ongoing commitment to excellence! The exterior was finished in May 2009, and the interior was completed in April 2012. The new facility added a 1,200 square foot education space, and expanded the museum’s collections space exponentially.

Our Mission

The Mission of the Texas Maritime Museum is to excite and educate the public about Texas Maritime history and artifacts. The Museum’s purpose is to offer a variety of experiences to children and adults by collecting, preserving, and interpreting items of historical interest for educational purposes; to recount Texas maritime history through artifacts, documents, and other materials of unique or historical value; and to exhibit items to further the public interest, knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of such material and related historical background.

The Museum’s collections and exhibits are based on four central themes:

  • History and Technology of offshore petroleum production and transportation

  • History and Development of Texas seaports, maritime communities and maritime commerce along the Gulf of Mexico

  • Exploration and Settlement history of the Texas Gulf Coast beginning with the Spanish and French

  • The Texas seafood and fishing industry