The Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay will be offering free admission to children 12 and under when it hosts a day-long “season opening” celebration on Saturday, May 28. Of course, the museum is open throughout the year, but this particular day will highlight some of the museum’s newest additions for all ages.
Possibly the most unique addition is associated with the tug John Purves. A remarkable new parade float replicating the famous Great Lakes tug and the museum’s popular in-water exhibit will be on display. Featuring many of the same attractive features of the real tug with a working smokestack and horns, the self-propelled float rests on a truck chassis and will be a regular at upcoming Door County parades. This will be the first opportunity for the general public to see this one-of-a-kind attraction. As usual, tug tours will be offered throughout the day on Saturday.
Inside the museum, visitors will see a number of new interactives in the Horton Gallery. Particularly intriguing will be the addition to the Elba pilothouse where pilots of all ages will be able to grab the wheel and try and navigate the Elba through the Sturgeon Bay shipping channel and its bridges.
Seven video screens will simulate a real-time dynamic view from the actual bridge of the Elba, an historic 400-foot-long vessel. As the ship enters the man-made ship canal from the lake, clouds and fog may momentarily obscure vision from which the pilot will emerge to see the first bridge. Successful navigation of it will then include the city’s two downtown bridges. The wheelhouse’s audio environment will include water, birds, Kahlenberg engine sounds and on-board radio traffic to give the impression that the “captain” is actually navigating a ship.
Also in the Horton Gallery, the interactives in the adjacent “Sea Dogs” exhibit have been enhanced to better give visitors true-to-life examples of the significance of dogs in a maritime setting. The “Sea Dogs” chronicle some of those amazing “tails” and the enduring human-canine relationship forged on the high seas.
This family-friendly fun exhibit is infused with bits of nautical history. In particular, the spotlight falls on Sinbad, the mascot dog of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Campbell. Sinbad became a media darling during World War II and was featured in movie newsreels, magazines, best-selling book and a successful war bond sales campaign.
Young visitors will also get a thrill out of the children’s play area that will afford them the opportunity to dress in appropriate costumes (sailor caps, life vests, dog masks, etc.) and enjoy a human-size dog house.
The Museum also has a pair of new temporary exhibits inside the museum. “From Inside the Collections,” is a unique offering in that it will be a recurring exhibit with museum curator Adam Gronke promising to periodically launch different versions of the series at future dates. This first offering will concentrate on shipwreck items within the museum’s collection.
“An Architect and His Art,” is being shown in the Reddin Bridge Room and features the work of Ben Shenkelberg, who designed the Sturgeon Bay museum and is currently the architect for the proposed Maritime Tower project.
Visitors will also have the opportunity to explore three other galleries, including the Peterson Gallery and its remarkable view of Sturgeon Bay through a nuclear submarine periscope; the Baumgartner Gallery with is stunning models and lighthouse exhibit; and the John Roen Asher Gallery with it vessels and engines, original Marine Travelift as well the captivating stories surrounding Capt. John Roen.
Admission is $13 for adults (including the tug). Call the museum at (920)743-5958 for more information.