Gov. Asa Hutchinson said that $750,000 in state funds will be provided over the next two years to help the Sultana Disaster Museum in Marion renovate and move into a historic gymnasium.
The Sultana Historical Preservation Society announced the kick-off of its public fundraising campaign on Tuesday.
Including the state's contribution, the Society has already raised about $2 million toward its goal of $7.5 million.
The Marion Advertising & Promotion Commission has pledged $500,000, and the Society's board has pledged $161,000.
Plans are to move the museum from its current 1,000-square-foot location into a 17,000-square-foot school gymnasium that was built in 1938.
The museum honors those who died in America's greatest maritime disaster. More than 1,100 died.
On April 27, 1865, a boiler on the Sultana exploded, engulfing the steamship in flames before sinking it into a muddy grave on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River. The disaster took place about 7 miles north of Memphis.
The Sultana, with a legal capacity of 376, was overloaded with Union soldiers recently freed from Confederate prisons in Alabama and Georgia. They were trying to get home to the Midwest after a long march to Vicksburg to board the ship.
See Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more details.