NEWPORT BEACH — Ship models? They may be better suited for a yacht club or a fireplace mantel.
On Saturday, the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum will publicly unveil plans for ExplorOcean, a roughly $40-million interactive amusement and educational center that focuses on mankind's relationship with the sea. With a "4D" sensory theater, submarine simulators and other family-oriented attractions, the project's backers envision a regional, if not national, draw for the Balboa Peninsula.
ExplorOcean is showing how the Nautical Museum is expanding beyond — some say discarded — local history and the traditional notion of a museum.
"It's something that takes a little time to grasp," said Tom Pollack, chairman of the ExplorOcean board of trustees. "It's a broader definition of what a nautical museum should be."
The new building would completely alter the landscape and dwarf the iconic Balboa Pavilion, a relic of the early 1900s and state historic landmark. It would also replace the 1930s-era Fun Zone, a mini amusement park with a carousel and arcades.