Relating man and sea

"A Sea of Adventure" awaits visitors at the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum when the opening this weekend of an interactive exhibit exploring maritime history.

The exhibit highlights the relationship between man and sea, as well as the emerging role of Newport Harbor in oceanic exploration, museum Executive Director Rita Stenlund said Wednesday.

"Man's relationship with the sea has no boundaries," Stenlund said. "The possibilities are almost limitless — it is the last frontier of exploration. We want to challenge people to explore, engage and improve the ocean."

The three-part exhibit on past, present and future maritime culture begins with an opening-night reception and fundraiser. The exhibit opens to the public Saturday.

Through the interactive stations, visitors can hear the melodies of the Beach Boys as they learn about the rise of surf culture, climb into the stern of 31-foot race boat and watch a dive from inside a replica of Alvin, the research submersible used to explore the Titanic.

There is also the opportunity to watch filmed interviews with Newport Harbor natives talking about local hotspots for fishing, kayaking and other ocean-centered activities.

Each local is an expert on one of the activities that can be done in the immediate and surrounding Newport Harbor vicinity, Stenlund said.

To access the interviews, a visitor selects an activity and a map of Newport Harbor will light up with the corresponding location and video.

"This gallery is really intended to get people out there by showing them what and where they can start engaging the sea themselves," Stenlund said.

"A Sea of Adventure" is set up in the East Gallery of the museum and is part of a larger effort to revitalize Balboa Village.

The museum is in the heart of the Balboa Peninsula Fun Zone, which stretches from Palm Street and Washington Street, and is undergoing development to become a "cultural destination spot for everyone," Stenlund said.

The project, titled ExplorOcean, was announced in March of this year and includes the recent construction of the Richard and Betty Steele Model Pavilion, which houses the 1997 Transpacific Yacht race trophy won by Roy P. Disney.

Stenlund estimates that the project will be completed by 2015. However, the many exhibits and learning programs available through the museum will remain open during construction.

Elements of "A Sea of Adventure" will also tour throughout the region to increase the museum's visibility during construction.

"We just want to be a place that connects everyone to the sea," Stenlund said. "The sea is mystery, excitement and romance and everyone has a unique association with what the sea means to them."

If You Go

Where: 600 E. Bay Ave., Newport Beach.

Cost: Admission is free, but a $5 donation recommended.

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