October 9, 2017

Another summer season has ended and as we close up Cana Island Lighthouse and Gills Rock Maritime Museum, we reflect on those visitors that we serve all year.  People have told us that when they make a gift to the Door County Maritime Museum, they do so because they love Door County, believe in our mission and appreciate the unique maritime traditions of the Great Lakes. It is through support from you, that we are able to so beautifully and professionally display the vibrant heritage of this region for all to enjoy.

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit, we receive no government funding. To maintain a museum of the caliber we have come to expect of the Door County Maritime Museum, we rely on donations to help us meet the costs associated with operations, exhibits and programming. We are governed by a Board of Directors who practice very careful oversight of our funds and genuinely understand their stewardship role. Although we manage our funds as carefully as possible, there is still a need from time to time for us to ask for your support.


Door County Maritime Museum—Sturgeon Bay

Each spring and summer are busy times at the museum and 2017 was no different, with nearly 35,000 visiting the museum and tug.  We hosted the popular Door County Lighthouse Festival, a visitor favorite both in the early summer and fall months. We also hosted the Door County Classic & Wooden Boat Festival, celebrated the USCG person of the year and paid tribute to the many contributions given to our community with the Mariner Award dinner. We continued to raise money and educate people with our wooden boat raffle, the Maritime Speaker Series and soon twe will celebrate our festive holiday tradition with the Merry-Time Festival of Trees event. This winter we will also be adding a new February event featuring nautical spirits and morsels to celebrate our fishing heritage and Great Lakes delights!

Coming to a close on October 23 is the museum’s temporary exhibit, “Telegraphs to the Past,” which explores the history and development of shipboard communications and the Engine Order Telegraph.  As change is constant, the museum will also be making exhibit changes resulting in the closing of the popular Sea Dogs exhibit on January 1, 2018.  Look for a new exciting, family-friendly exhibit coming in May of 2018 to take its place! We will also be adding two new nautical themed art exhibits in the coming year as there is so much to celebrate!

Besides the many festivals and activities going on at the museum this year, work has been underway to expand the Sturgeon Bay facility with a spectacular, 10-story Maritime Lighthouse Tower filled with state-of-the-art exhibits for all ages. Evoking the romance of North America’s lighthouses, it will serve as a striking visual landmark on the Sturgeon Bay waterfront.  The additional Maritime Lighthouse Tower will be dedicated to telling of Door County’s rich maritime roots and recognizing the region’s vast contributions to shipbuilding, recreational boating, and marine related industries.

Changes are happening and we invite you to continue your support and interest as we make these changes to bring new activities to visitors both near and far.


Maritime Lighthouse Tower and Museum Expansion Campaign

For four decades the Door County Maritime Museum has educated and entertained the public while preserving the rich maritime history of the Great Lakes and Door County peninsula.  Now the museum is ready to take a major leap forward with an exciting new initiative of expanding its Sturgeon Bay facility with a spectacular 10-story Maritime Tower filled with state-of-the-art exhibits to engage all audiences.  Evoking the bygone days when working lighthouses were seen all along the coastlines, the Maritime Tower will serve as a striking visual landmark on the Sturgeon Bay waterfront.  Stage 1 is complete and we have raised $2.3 million.  Now, with your help, we enter Stage 2 to raise the remaining $3.2 million to complete this exciting project. 

“Our goals are to construct the tower, which will have an observation platform, so visitors can have a  360-degree view of Sturgeon Bay’s working waterfront,” said Cap Wulf, Lighthouse Tower campaign chairman.  “We will also have themed exhibits on each of the 10 floors with interactive displays, artifacts from the area and educational experiences for all ages.”  To learn more about this project, contact the museum or Holly Voll, the museum’s development manager, at (920) 743-5958 or via email at hvoll@dcmm.org. 


Gills Rock Maritime Museum

The Gills Rock Maritime Museum exhibits are often described as being very intimate to the local area.  This summer’s guests echoed that special quality of the exhibits and the Shipwrecks exhibit that features information and artifacts from shipwrecks including the Edmund Fitzgerald, the Louisiana and Fleetwing were very popular with visitors.  Immortalized in Gordon Lightfoot’s song, the Edmund Fitzgerald was built in 1958 at the Great Lakes Engineering Works in Michigan.  On November 10, 1975, the Edmund Fitzgerald was lost along with her crew of 29 men in Lake Superior 17 miles north-northwest of Whitefish Point, Michigan.  The museum closes October 15 but we invite visitors to check out our changes next year with the renaming of the museum, “Death’s Door Maritime Museum,” and a special statue unveiling to honor Door County’s fishing industry and traditions.  


Cana Island Light Station

High water levels and a crumbling out buildings were two obstacles presented to us this summer at Cana Island Lighthouse.  The high water meant we needed to find a way to get visitors over to the lighthouse, and a solution presented itself in the form of a tractor and wagon.  Our volunteers and staff have been creative problem-solvers and for that, we are grateful.  As we head into the second phase of improvements at Cana, we are restoring the oil house, privy and barn.  The barn was built on a rubble stone foundation and presented a challenge as it was not able to be repaired.  The oil house and privy are also undergoing many improvements and changes including lead paint removal and the addition of new period correct roofs.  Visit us next year to see all the improvements and support the next phase of our restoration project as we move toward creating a new interpretive center and museum store!


An Incredible Packer Game Experience

The Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay is joining in the Packer fever and raffling four inside club level seats (tickets), a parking pass and $100 in cash to be warm and comfortable at Lambeau Field when the Green Bay Packers host the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday, December 23.  The Door County Maritime Museum is giving you a chance to win this special Holiday Packer Package and support the museum but you have to act fast! Only 1,000 raffle tickets will be sold.

Raffle tickets are $25 each or five tickets for $100 and can be purchased with the information stub submitted to the Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay by Friday, December 1, 2017. The drawing will be held at 4 p.m. on December 1 and the winner will be contacted immediately after the drawing.

All proceeds directly support the Door County Maritime Museum’s facilities in Sturgeon Bay, Cana Island and Gills Rock. To purchase tickets call (920)743-5958 Monday through Friday or purchase at the museum during regular business hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The museum is located at 120 N. Madison Avenue, Sturgeon Bay.

Thank you for your continued support of the Door County Maritime Museum & Lighthouse Preservation Society and the three locations that are so special to visitors and residents alike.  Our mission cannot be accomplished without you! You are special to us and we sincerely appreciate your support.


Kind regards,

Amy Paul

Executive Director