ABERDEEN — The Roberts family, founders of Westport Winery and Ocean’s Daughter Distillery, plan to build what they’re calling the world’s first International Mermaid Museum.

The focus will be on marine life and merfolk mythology and creating a fun and engaging learning environment, said winery co-owner Kim Roberts. The museum will be located on the winery property at 1 S. Arbor Rd. in Aberdeen.

The nonprofit’s board of directors includes a “gossip” — the term for group — of mermaids: Kim Roberts, Carrie Roberts and Jamie Walsh of Aberdeen; Karyl Vasereno, Jill Jacobs and Brook Maples of Westport; Deb Blake of Cosmopolis; Susan Conniry of Ocean Shores; Dodie Brogan of Elma; Jane Hewitt of Montesano; and Laurie Bowman of South Bend. (Bowman is director of the Northwest Carriage Museum in Raymond.) The first board meeting was held Saturday, Aug. 24, at the winery.

The goal of the museum is to create a learning center that will offer education to all ages about the underwater world by wrapping it in merfolk mythology, said Roberts.

The museum board plans to develop a school curriculum for Grays Harbor students with an educational emphasis on teaching children to write their own myth or create merfolk art. The board would like to fund scholarships for local students, specifically for students who need assistance in training that will allow them to work as merchant mariners or boat captains.

There is no other museum in the world dedicated to mermaids, according to Roberts.

“We want to teach our local students and visitors about the world’s unique ocean ecology from seashore to the seafloor. We think that offering this through the mythology of merfolk will allow the museum to engage all ages in a fun and unique manner,” said Roberts. “When you look around the world, virtually all seafaring nations have mermaid lore. This is one of those things that unites different cultures.”

Blain Roberts, who partners with his wife, Kim, and their adult children Carrie and Dana in the businesses, said, “Since we opened the winery in 2008, we have donated a portion of the proceeds from each wine to different local charities. These contributions total over $500,000. As we launch Ocean’s Daughter Distillery, we see an opportunity to create a legacy gift to our community.”

Winery general manager Carrie Roberts said, “As I was growing up my parents owned the largest charter scuba diving business in Hawaii. I had a special opportunity not afforded to most kids to learn from them about the undersea world. At the same time, Disney produced ‘The Little Mermaid,’ so I was doubly captivated.”

The family said the idea started when one of their lifetime friends decided to mail his entire shell collection to them. Among the rarities was a shell called a mermaid’s comb. Blain told the rest of the family about the shell’s nature of not sinking into the sediment because of its spines. Kim said, “While he was talking, I was imagining a mermaid running it through her hair because of its evocative name.” This became her inspiration for creating the museum.

Inquiries about making financial donations or items to include in the display may be emailed to info@mermaidmuseum.org.

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