In the spring of 1976 then Commissioner of Agriculture Graham appointed an Advisory Board to help in planning the future of the Museum. Made up of volunteers from a broad spectrum of disciplines and occupation, the Advisory Board functioned solely in an advisory capacity, with the exception of sponsoring a monthly lecture series.
Members of the local community have always been considered one of the Museum’s most valuable assets and The Friends made the community aware of the possibilities for Museum support that could be achieved. The Friends unfailing support and unflagging allegiance remains an integral and indispensable part of the Museum’s life.
In 1977, the Advisory Board, with the enthusiastic support of the Museum staff, established The Friends of the Museum, North Carolina Maritime Museum, Inc. (The Friends) a legally incorporated non-profit group (FTID whose purpose was to support the Museum in areas where the state could not. The Friends federal tax id number is 56-1278009.
Some of the most obvious contributions of The Friends over the years include: the publication of the Museum newsletter, starting what would be a long string of Friends supported Museum programming, being instrumental in the successful negotiations for the donation of the property on which the museum and Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center sit, offering boaters loaner vehicles to run errands, paying for the auditorium, library fireplace, bookcases and furnishings, raising $50,000 for the purchase of Harborside (a three-story building across from the Museum), sponsoring the Cape Lookout Studies Program, purchasing an off-site carpentry shop and a boat storage building, securing a grant to fund the “USS Monitor” traveling exhibit, starting and administering the Museum’s Junior Sailing Program, and mounting a campaign to develop the ideal Gallants Channel waterfront property.