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Anonymous Donor Gives Seaport Museum $500,000 for Post-Sandy Repairs

SOUTH STREET SEAPORT — The South Street Seaport Museum was the recipient of an unexpected gift this holiday season.

Just a couple days before Christmas, an anonymous donor sent the Hurricane Sandy-battered museum a $500,000 check in the mail.

The museum, which was inundated by floodwaters like most of its hard-hit neighborhood, managed to reopen on Dec. 19, but is raising funds to replace the heating, air-conditioning, telecom and electrical systems that were destroyed during the storm.

Including the new half-million dollars, the museum has collected more than $750,000. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation also chipped in $100,000.

"I am so grateful to everyone who responded to our very real needs," Susan Henshaw Jones, the museum's president, said in a statement. "Their generosity affirms that New Yorkers want the Seaport Museum to survive."

The Fulton Street museum still has a long fundraising road ahead. Henshaw Jones estimates it will take $22 million to complete all the necessary repairs. However, the museum's historical ships were spared damage during the storm.

Even without working escalators or elevators, and running on generators, the museum is pushing ahead, opening its doors every day between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. It's also featuring two new exhibitions — "A Fisherman’s Dream," a collection of folk art by Mario Sanchez, and "Street Shots/NYC," a selection of contemporary New York City street photography.

The museum, which first opened in 1967 to celebrate the city's maritime history, has proven itself resilient. After being forced to close for about a year because of financial troubles, the museum was able to relaunch last January under the management of the Museum of the City of New York.

Donations can be made at the museum's website.

Admission is $10 and free for children under 9.