January 19, 2018


    The Door County Maritime Museum-Gills Rock Gets a Name Change

The Door County Maritime Museum-Gills Rock will be renamed the Death’s Door Maritime Museum in 2018. The name change will be celebrated with a renaming ceremony on July 4, 2018.

“We wanted to peak additional interest and create extraordinary excitement by changing the name to something rich in maritime lore,” says the museum’s Executive Director, Amy Paul.

The Death’s Door Maritime Museum traces the area’s commercial fishing tradition. It boasts the wooden fishing tug Hope and see a replica net shed complete with fishing boxes, net reel and other traditional fishing supplies. Visitors have the rare opportunity to explore, inside and out, the 45-foot wooden fishing boat. The Hope was built in 1930 by Sturgeon Bay Boat Works and owned by the well-known Stanley Voight fishing family. A video of the tug’s final fishing trip in 1992 is showcased as part of the exhibit.

The museum also features a shipwreck and scuba diving exhibit, artifacts brought up from the bottom of Lake Michigan and information on the area’s dangerous passage known as Death’s Door. Visitors can use a Lyle gun to rescue stranded mariners and browse an area devoted to marine engines, including those built at Kahlenberg Brothers of Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Visitors will experience a fully restored Kahlenberg engine from the fishing tug King which was salvaged and completely restored by Kurt Krueger with the intent of being a museum piece.

Death’s Door may be famous for having lent its name to both the Door Peninsula and Door County, but this strait of water that passes between Washington Island to the north and the Door Peninsula to the south is rich in history and legend. The exhibit explores the origins of Ports des Morts, as it was referred to by French explorers, all the way back to the native American tribes and the legends associated with them. Some of the many shipwrecks which went down in the treacherous strait are explored as well as thrilling accounts of the hearty fishermen who regularly work its waters.

There are even more exciting opportunities at Death’s Door Maritime Museum with interactive technology, called Augmented Reality, assisting in telling the stories. Augmented reality is the overlaying of digital information (such as videos, graphics and images) onto the real world. It is a way to seamlessly integrate the digital and non-digital in a way that is engaging and exciting. Use a tablet provided by the museum or your own personal smart phone and experience maritime history in a whole new way.

On July 4 the renaming ceremony will take place at the newly named Death’s Door Maritime Museum at 12724 W Wisconsin Bay Rd, Ellison Bay, WI. There will be a special statue unveiling to honor Door County’s fishing industry and traditions. Everyone is invited in celebrating this new, innovative name that will encourage more people to come explore Door County’s maritime history.

For more information please visit or call (920) 743-5958.

Media contact:

Amy Paul

Executive Director

(920) 743-5958