Maritime Lighthouse Tower Experience

Welcome to the Jim Kress Maritime Lighthouse Tower!

The Door County Maritime Museum, located on the working waterfront of Sturgeon Bay in northeast Wisconsin, has celebrated and shared the rich maritime history of Door County and the Great Lakes for more than 50 years. Now, the Museum is expanding our main location with the landmark Jim Kress Maritime Lighthouse Tower. Exhibits within the Tower use state-of-the-art interactives designed to capture the imagination, immerse visitors in the experience of Wisconsin’s rich nautical heritage, and inspire the next generation of Wisconsin’s workforce.

The Maritime Lighthouse Tower visitor experience begins in the first floor Theater. Guests then take the elevator to the top, and make their way down through each floor of exhibits. The educational, interactive exhibit themes for each floor in the Maritime Lighthouse Tower include:

  • 1st Floor – Maritime Theater. Welcome to the Door Peninsula—a place of breathtaking beauty and rich history. Explore the ways water has defined the people, history and development of this region.
  • 10th Floor – Our Working Waterfront. Sturgeon Bay’s development reflects the county’s connection to the world via the Great Lakes.  
    • Baumgartner Observation Deck –  The rooftop outdoor observation deck will be seasonally available to visitors, May to October.
  • 9th Floor – Our Rocky Peninsula. Across time, the Door Peninsula has been defined by water, ice and wind. The result is an ever-changing, beautiful landscape that is home to a diverse array of life.
  • 8th Floor – People of the Water. From Native Americans and early settlers, to today’s tourist economy, people have lived on and off the waters that surround the Door Peninsula for millennia.
  • 7th Floor – Navigation. Modern navigation is built on ancient knowledge, advances in tools and technology, and the work of adventurers and cartographers who charted the world.
  • 6th Floor – Commerce. The Sturgeon Bay Shipping Canal connects the Bay of Green Bay to Lake Michigan, and opened in 1890. Door County today is built on the region’s rich natural resources and its connection to the wider world via the Great Lakes.
  • 5th Floor – Shipbuilding. People from maritime cultures settled Wisconsin’s shores and shaped the region’s shipbuilding legacy, from the earliest wooden boats to state-of-the-art warships to world-renowned recreational watercraft.
  • 4th Floor – Recreational Boating. From small craft to luxury yachts, since the 1920s recreational boating has defined leisure and tourism on the Door Peninsula.
  • 3rd Floor – Life Underwater. The evolution and role of commercial and recreational fishing, and the various species in the waters of Door County. We are all part of a complex, diverse web of life.
  • 2nd Floor – Shipwrecks. Shipwrecks are wood and steel chronicles that reveal clues about history, maritime engineering and commerce, and the triumphs and tragedies of life on the water. There are more than 275 shipwrecks in the waters of Door County; many in less than 60 feet of water. 

DCMM educational programs emphasize the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math (STEAM) in the area’s rich maritime economy. Exhibits in the Maritime Lighthouse Tower will fill a current void in the area to strengthen connections between business and industry with regional K-12 school districts and higher education institutions. Our primary intent is to encourage children and young adults to consider one of many well-paying technical careers in the area and break the cycle of poverty in our local community. Exhibits and programs within the Tower will use high-tech, interactive exhibits designed to capture the imagination of the next generation of Wisconsin’s workforce. No other museum environment in this region of Wisconsin has a similar kind of immersive educational experience.

Additional Tower Project Information