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Hatteras' Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum reopens after major renovations

Courtesy Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum

An outer banks museum is reopening after two years of extensive renovation. The Graveyard of the Atlantic in Hatteras had received 64,000 visitors a year before the pandemic, and in 2022, it closed for renovations.

All artifacts were taken out of the building as workers revamped the indoor space for new exhibits. Interim Director Maria Vann says the years-long project is, in part, aimed at presenting a more comprehensive history of the Outer Banks.

"The entire gallery space has been reimagined," Vann said. "Our curators worked on interpreting stories that haven't been told before or needed to be told more fully."

The museum is named in honor of the thousands of shipwrecks that rest off North Carolina's coast. The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum is known for its extensive maritime collections, including a Fresnel lens from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Among its exhibits are ones focusing on pre-colonial Native American, the beginnings of the U.S. Coast Guard, and items from WWII, including an enigma machine. The centerpiece, however, is a piece from an iconic Outer Banks landmark.

"The Fresnel lens from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is still here in the museum, which is beloved by so many people," Vann said, adding there's a new interactive exhibit that shows how the lens works.

The museum held a soft opening Thursday for select guests. It will open to the full public on Monday morning.

Ryan is an Arkansas native and podcast junkie. He was first introduced to public radio during an internship with his hometown NPR station, KUAF. Ryan is a graduate of Tufts University in Somerville, Mass., where he studied political science and led the Tufts Daily, the nation’s smallest independent daily college newspaper. In his spare time, Ryan likes to embroider, attend musicals, and spend time with his fiancée.