Mayor Sandy Stimpson temporarily shut the doors on GulfQuest in November of 2016. The press release sent out by his office made it seem as if GulfQuest was closing for good. However, at a press conference later that day the Mayor clarified that this was not the case.
“Let’s not use that word closed, okay? Because we’re going through a transition period here and I don’t know how long that transition period is going to be. It will depend on input from third parties who could maybe come in and help assist us with this,” Mayor Stimpson said.
Currently, the shuttered museum is open on a temporary basis.
“It’s a little gray, if you will, right now on certain days. They’ve got a limited staff now to keep the doors open for parties, receptions, and those things that were already booked,” Council President Gina Gregory said.
The closure of GulfQuest came days before Carnival Cruise Lines returned to Mobile. Many people believed cruise passengers coming on and off the cruise ship would bring in big business for the museum.
“I think it’s a terrible shame that this was executed just prior to the return of Carnival to Mobile. We had been planning for nine months to the marketing plan, if you will, in how we were going to reach those cruise passengers,” Former GulfQuest Director Tony Zodrow said.
Mayor Stimpson disagreed saying the cruise passengers would not be the “salvation” of the museum.
The future of GulfQuest is unclear.
“The Mayor I know is talking to a number of third party entities about what we can do to keep it viable– to make it better– to bring in more visitors,” Gregory said.
While no one knows what’s next for GulfQuest federal funding guarantees the museum must remain maritime themed.
“If you go back and look at the federal grants, the grant applications filed by the City of Mobile to the federal government to construct the building, they guaranteed certain things. That within this building, it would have a maritime focus, that it would be the home of the maritime museum. Um, and if that ever ceases to exist, it could place those federal funds in jeopardy,” Zodrow said.