This museum would specialize in providing hands-on experiences that inspire visitors to understand and appreciate the maritime heritage of the Gulf of Mexico. There would be no permanent collection of artifacts – rather, historical artifacts and memorabilia would be displayed in a few areas and through temporary exhibits. The museum's permanent exhibits would provide interactive experiences by engaging visitors in hands-on activities.
As plans emerged, Mobile Mayor Michael Dow championed this maritime museum as the hub of public activity to restore access to the waterfront. During Mayor Dow's tenure, "Mobile Landing" became home to the Arthur C. Outlaw Convention Center, Cooper Riverside Park, and the Alabama Cruise Terminal. Under Mayor Sam Jones' tenure, the construction of GulfQuest's building was initiated. Construction officially began in January 2010 with site preparations and continued through 2015 when the building was substantially completed. Installation of the museum's exhibits began in mid-2014 and was completed in summer 2015. On Saturday, September 26, 2015, GulfQuest celebrated its grand opening to the general public.
With 90 exhibits, theaters, displays and simulators, GulfQuest provides a whole new way for residents and visitors to explore the Gulf of Mexico.
A "mainstay" carries the greatest weight in an organization. Aboard sailing ships, the mainstay was part of a vessel's standing (stationary) rigging, a rope or wire that helped support the main mast, which carried the largest sails.