About The Organization

To inspire curiosity about our unique coastal environment, history, and the broader natural universe through interactive, fun, science-based experiences.

We envision a community where curiosity inspires learning and exploration of the coastal environment and the universe.

To encourage engagement, reflect innovation, provide enjoyment, strive for excellence, and perform with integrity.

History of the Museum and Planetarium


What kind of fish is that, mister?

Stuart Ingram’s vision of sharing his knowledge of nature and science was prefaced by this question while fishing on the beach. He had the idea to create a museum for the coast. The Museum of Coastal Carolina opened on May 25, 1991 in Ocean Isle Beach, NC.

Now, imagine a young World War II airman learning to navigate his aircraft by looking at the stars. Years later, he points out different constellations to his family and friends on warm summer nights. Fascination with the night sky lead Stuart Ingram to dream of a planetarium where others can share his knowledge of and fascination with the stars. Ingram Planetarium opened in May, 2002 in Sunset Beach, NC — only four miles away from the Museum of Coastal Carolina which he had opened 11 years earlier.

With the first donation from his mother-in-law, the encouragement of a steering committee, the generosity of numerous friends, and the support of his wife, Louise, the local business community, and the citizens of Brunswick County, Stuart Ingram’s visions of the Museum of Coastal Carolina and Ingram Planetarium are a reality today.

The Ocean Isle Museum Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit foundation that supports operations of the Museum of Coastal Carolina in Ocean Isle Beach, NC and Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach, NC through admission fees, private donations, community contributions, grants, memberships, and gift shop sales.

Our Team / Staff


21 East Second Street
Ocean Isle Beach, NC 28469
Tel.: 910-579-1016
Fax: 910-575-4770


7625 High Market Street
Sunset Beach, NC 28468
Tel.: 910-575-0033
Fax: 910-575-0031


  • Stephanie Chestnutt, Education Assistant
  • Isabella Curtis, Guest Service Associate
  • Andre Dominguez, Planetarium Assistant
  • Cristen Eddins, Guest Service Manager
  • Terri Frazee, Bookkeeper
  • Rebecca Gaskins, Planetarium Manager
  • Leslie Godden, Volunteer Coordinator
  • Cami Herrin  Planetarium Presenter
  • Jim Hoffman, Executive Director
  • Michele Johnson, Guest Service Associate
  • Jamie Justice, Education Manager
  • Karen Nelson, Retail Manager
  • Marty Shirah, Planetarium Assistant

Board of Trustees 2023-24

The Board of Trustees of the Ocean Isle Museum Foundation, Inc. is the governing body of Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach, NC and the Museum of Coastal Carolina in Ocean Isle Beach, NC.

  • Bob Forrester, Chair
  • Ken Krause, Vice Chair
  • Dianne McRainey, Treasurer
  • Tim Eckert, Secretary
  • Jerry Rothenberg, Immediate Past President
  • Ann Bokelman
  • Alan Brown
  • Jean Kirch
  • Dick Ludden
  • Lisa Mosca
  • Rod Meadows
  • Jamie Reme
  • Allison Smith
  • Scott Walters
  • Jerry Thrift, Chair Emeritus

Strategic Plan

The Ocean Isle Museum Foundation implemented a three-year Strategic Plan in June 2021.  The Plan reflected high levels of uncertainty due to the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

In mid-2022 the Foundation Board and Staff completed a review of the Plan considering internal and external changes that have occurred, as well as progress that has been made against the Plan’s objectives.  We are pleased to report several key take-aways based on that review and have revised that plan. Please click the link below to read our Strategic Plan.