If you think museums are stuffy, quiet places that people visit for research, contemplation, or when there’s nothing else to do, then you haven’t visited North Carolina’s only natural history museum on a barrier island. New exterior murals predict some of the things you’ll see inside the Museum of Coastal Carolina at nearby Ocean Isle Beach (15 minutes from Sunset Beach, NC).
Happy, interactive voices are encouraged! One might hear toddlers calling out “Boat, Daddy, boat!” as they climb into the wooden strip boat made here in Brunswick County. Staff and volunteers often hear “Whoa!” when visitors approach the shark jaw exhibit. Carolina residents track their local rivers to the sea and parents teach their young children to keep the beach clean and protect the animals from trash as they pass the Litterbug Hall of Shame.
Imagine getting up close to the area wildlife on display in the Green Swamp diorama. Then touch or hold a sea star, an urchin, or a hermit crab at the touch tank. Learn the inside story of shells at the newly updated Carolina Shells and Fossils exhibit. Don’t forget to bring your beach treasures to identify.
Hear “oohs and aahs” as you take a walk through the Ocean Reef Gallery that depicts a reef habitat about 65 miles off the coast of North Carolina. The toddler area in the Barrier Island Gallery has puppets, toy ocean animals, puzzles, and lots of happy noise. Then there’s silent awe at the Legacy of the Loggerhead sea turtle exhibit’s short video filmed on Ocean Isle Beach about the life cycle of the loggerhead turtle that includes a mother turtle laying eggs and the hatchlings crawling to the sea.
In the Coastal Plain, visitors exclaim “Wow!” when they see the American bald eagle up close and eye-to-eye. Identify the shorebirds you saw on Brunswick beaches. Children like to pretend they are a coyote or a bear with the pelts thrown over their shoulders. Fisherman are heard to exclaim that they learned to fish with a bamboo rod just like the one in the antique fishing equipment exhibit.
A visit to the Museum of Coastal Carolina is a treat for the young and the young at heart. Many vacationers include it as a multi-generational activity for the whole family. Local residents know that it is one of Brunswick County’s best family activities.
The Museum of Coastal Carolina is located at 21 East Second Street, Ocean Isle Beach beside the playground and just a block from the beach and the pier. Enjoy coastal natural history . . . for the fun of it! Check https://museumplanetarium.org/ or call 910.579.1016 for further information.
For educational and entertaining gifts and toys, visit Nature’s Treasures Gift Shop at the Museum or Galaxy Gifts at the Planetarium.