An enjoyable experience for adults and children alike, the International Mermaid Museum teaches ocean ecology “from seashore to sea floor” through folklore. Located halfway between Aberdeen and Westport on the Washington coast, the nation’s first museum dedicated to mermaid mythology opened in 2021 and has strived to enchant and educate visitors ever since.
As part of the local coastal community, the museum’s intention is not only to provide a fun and unique experience for visitors but also to relay the importance of keeping our beaches and oceans clean. “Mermaids in storytelling encourage people to see the undersea environment, not just through the lens of marine life, but through the view of humans in the underwater world, thus helping them better understand the importance of clean oceans, the sea as a living environment, and the reality of ocean exploration as one of the last great adventures on earth,” their mission statement reads.
“Ocean ecology is what the museum is really about,” says Kim Roberts, the chairperson of the nonprofit museum’s board of directors, “and mermaid mythology is how we make it fun.”
Upon entering the museum, guests large and small, are invited to borrow a colorful mermaid tail and pose for pictures upon a blue and green sea glass encrusted mermaid throne. To the left of the throne is a sluice box, where guests can pan for sea shells, gems and fossils to discover more about treasures from our beaches and ocean floors.
A few steps beyond is the exhibition hall that contains over 40 displays connecting mermaid mythology to ocean ecology. Children are given a treasure map, where they answer questions from the exhibits and receive a prize once completed. Adults can read about mermaid and oceanic mythologies and folklore, including historical information about a local shipwreck.
Guests are also welcome to explore the museum wearing their own mermaid costumes, while young children have been known to bring mermaid stuffed animals and dolls with them to share the experience.
2024 Mermaid Festival
During the annual Mermaid Festival, the museum celebrates many forms of mermaid culture, with terrestrial, aerial and aquatic performers, as well as visiting unicorns and Bigfoot. The 2024 Mermaid Festival runs from April 6-14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the museum is free during the festival. During the rest of the year, admission is $3 per person ages five and up or $10 for a family.
Festival attendees can meet Una the Mermaid performing in her underwater tank; Olive the Alchemist, founder of the Seattle Mermaid School, will greet visitors from the mermaid throne; and Rachel the Sailing Siren will perform her fire dance. There will be daily aerial performances by Vertical Axis, as well as the opportunity to meet Sky and Blue, the Pacific Northwest Unicorns. On the weekends, Halcyon the Mermaid will play her harp.
The festival’s event tents will contain booths of woodwork, jewelry, soaps, and various other artwork, including Pirate Cliff offering oyster shucking for pearls with Mermaid Pockets. In the tent next door, kids will be able to make a fish print, called a gyotaku, to take home.
Visit the Mermaid Museum in Grays Harbor
The International Mermaid Museum is located on the grounds of the Westport Winery Garden Resort along with Ocean Daughter’s Distillery and Sea Glass Grill. Families are encouraged to explore the free 15-acre garden that features over 80 sculptures by local artists. Wine and spirit tasting is available both in the museum gift shop and next door at the family-friendly winery. For more information, visit the International Mermaid Museum website.
There is so much to do in “Unforgettable Grays Harbor” that families should consider staying for multiple nights when visiting the museum. Westport is a fishing community where visitors can purchase fresh seafood. The local beaches are famous for clam digging and the waves for surfing. There are terrific shops, restaurants, and museums dotted throughout the coastal community. From vacation rentals to quaint hotels to oceanfront campsites, this is the place to make lasting memories.
International Mermaid Museum
7 S Arbor Road, Aberdeen