The ships of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. File photo

The Maritime Museum of San Diego announced Thursday the largest gift in its history, a $5 million donation from longtime supporter Dan McKinney.

Museum officials said the gift will fund planning for a physical reorganization of the waterfront institution, including development of a floating gateway structure that will welcome and orient visitors to the maritime experience.

“This truly transformational gift will propel the museum to an even higher level,” said Dr. Raymond Ashley, president and CEO of the museum. “This is the largest cash donation in the Maritime Museum’s history and to put things in perspective, roughly equivalent to our annual operating budget.”

McKinney is a longtime supporter of the museum who has served on the board of directors and made several previous large-scale gifts.

“Dan himself is an accomplished yachtsman and navigator and has sailed on Star of India during several of her recent voyages,” Ashley said. “His enthusiasm for the unrivaled educational opportunities that experiences on authentic historic ships can offer by enriching the lives of young people in profound ways is the basis for this generous gift.”

The museum has one of the world’s finest collections of historic ships, including the world’s oldest active ship, the Star of India. A replica of the Spanish galleon San Salvador is just weeks away from being launched.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.