Author Allan Weisbecker once said, “Of all the surfy places I’ve lived, Montauk is the best to bolt South from.” It’s a cultural hub of East Coast surfing in America, and the waves themselves are as diverse as can be. It’s the perfect mix of good surf (when you’re in the right place at the right time) and history that’s made it worthy of building the Montauk Surf Museum.
Built in 1896, the Montauk Lighthouse has been restored in just under the past year and a half to transform into the brand new museum. Since the lighthouse itself was already a national historic landmark, renovations had to stick to the original building plans of the 119 year old structure. According to Russell Drumm, one of the museum’s curators, the lighthouse had been used for storage most of the past century. Now it will hold an exhibition of surfboards produced in Long Island since the 1960’s along with informational videos about the science of waves and the sport. “Our concept was to use surfing and its popularity as a way to introduce visitors to the science of it,” Drumm said. “The oceanography, the meteorology, the study of currents—all that stuff.”
Another feature of the musem will be a short documentary film about Montauk’s surf culture during the late 60’s. Interestingly, it will detail how surfing was nearly banned by city officials in the summer of 1967 when locals started complaining about “the scene” associated with surfing, less than excited about the crowds it would bring to their sleepy little East Hampton’s community.