Capital Campaign

THANK YOU for supporting the Jim Kress Maritime Lighthouse Tower!

It is our great pleasure to announce that the $9.2 Million Capital Campaign for the Jim Kress Maritime Lighthouse Tower is officially CLOSED!! The Door County Maritime Museum received word in early February 2022 that our $1.75 Million application to the Wisconsin Department of Administration Tourism Capital Grants Program was approved, and then announced by Governor Evers. Subsequently, DCMM supporter David G. Hatch stepped up with a gift to close the final funding gap for the Capital Campaign.

More than 400 individual, family, corporate and foundation donors have contributed to the Jim Kress Maritime Lighthouse Tower capital campaign since it began over six years ago. This includes $1 Million each from the George F. Kress Foundation and DCMM Board Member John Baumgartner, and a $250,000 Community Development Investment grant from the State of Wisconsin’s Economic Development Corporation.

The Jim Kress Maritime Lighthouse Tower at the Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay was christened and opened to the public on Saturday, May 22, 2021 (National Maritime Day).

DCMM experienced a significant increase in museum attendance with the initial opening of the Jim Kress Maritime Lighthouse Tower to the public in May 2021. Museum attendance in Sturgeon Bay has previously averaged 21,000 visitors per year. For the first season of the Maritime Lighthouse Tower, the museum welcomed more than 31,000 visitors, June to December. Our 2022 budget estimates that we will welcome 35,000 visitors in Sturgeon Bay. For the first time in our 52-year DCMM history, we hosted more than 101,000 visitors across all three museum locations in 2021. We project that we will see similar, if not greater, numbers of visitors in 2022 and beyond.

The 7th Floor Navigation and 2nd Floor Shipwrecks exhibits opened to the public on Friday, February 11, 2022. The next floors installed were Life Underwater (3) and Commerce (6),  leading up to our Grand Opening event on National Maritime Day, Sunday, May 22, 2022. The final floors will be Shipbuilding (5) and People of the Water (8), followed by Our Rocky Peninsula (9) and Recreational Boating (4), all completed by December 2022. 

The Jim Kress Maritime Lighthouse Tower enables DCMM to better and more effectively share the important maritime culture and heritage of our community with a wider audience, making our unique part of American history come alive for a growing number of visitors. No other museum environment in this region of Wisconsin has a similar kind of immersive cultural and educational experience.

We also anticipate local K-12 teachers using the new Museum exhibits in their curriculum plans. DCMM is already engaged with outreach and educational programming with all five local Door County school districts. DCMM will develop an educational outreach plan in concert with the exhibit interpretive plan, incorporating Wisconsin state curricular guidelines and standards. Through participation in our Cardboard Regatta boatbuilding and SeaPerch underwater robotics programs, we will be able to provide access to the programs and exhibits within the Jim Kress Maritime Lighthouse Tower. Beyond Door County, we plan for the expansion of K-12 outreach programs to surrounding counties/communities, including Green Bay, Kewaunee, Appleton, the Fox Cities, Sheboygan and Manitowoc.

The next major benchmark for DCMM is to apply for accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). Recognized as the gold standard for museum excellence for 50 years, AAM accreditation signifies a museum’s quality and credibility to the entire museum community, to governments and outside agencies, and to the museum-going public. There are an estimated 35,000 museums of various sizes in the United States; fewer than 1,100 are AAM-accredited (about 3%). These museums have demonstrated that they are educational entities that are appropriate stewards of the collections and resources they hold in the public trust. Accreditation also provides access to artifact loans from America’s most respected and comprehensive museum collections, while also further extending our ability to reach potential visitors to Door County and our museum.

Contact Museum Executive Director Kevin Osgood or
Deputy Director & Development Manager Sam Perlman



Additional Tower Project Information