Great Lake museum seeking more volunteersWritten by Don Lee | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Maybe the freighter hauled ‘em in.
Last weekend’s call for volunteers netted “14 or 15” solid leads for the National Museum of the Great Lakes, which Development Director Anna Kolin says is a good start.
“I think we’re going to see a lot more,” she said.
The museum, now planning to open next spring though there is no solid date yet, cast the net a little wider by opening the museum ship Col. James M. Schoonmaker for tours on Aug. 31.
Kolin said about 150 people showed up for the four hours the retired lake freighter was open, poking noses and camera lenses into the ship’s wheelhouse, crew and passenger quarters, galley and engine room, or simply walking and climbing the main deck of the 600-foot, century-old freighter.
Though the museum’s public efforts since announcing its move to Toledo several years ago have centered on raising money and attracting big donors, Kolin and Museum Director Christopher Gillcrist both said the museum “runs on volunteers.”
The museum seeks volunteer help with everything from basic maintenance of the grounds, exhibits and freighter to office work, leading tours and answering visitors’ questions.
A handful of volunteers have been working for several years on restoring and otherwise sprucing up the Schoonmaker, moored since October 2012 next to the museum, at 1701 Front St. just upriver from the I-280 bridge.
Other prospective volunteers have also made unique donations, including an Ann Arbor model-train and Lego enthusiast who on Aug. 31 gave the museum a collection of scale train cars for use in an exhibit, as well as thousands of Lego blocks, which Kolin said will be part of an exhibit later on, as well as an ongoing interactive exhibit for younger visitors.
The Lego exhibit, Kolin said, is likely to include already-built Lego models of all the Maumee River bridges and a few notable Great Lakes freighters.
Though the freighters will be a big part of the story, the museum aims to tell the whole story of the Great Lakes as they relate to North American and world history, Gillcrist said at an Aug. 30 meeting aimed at rounding up prospective volunteers.
That story, covering everything from the European settlement of the continent to the lakes’ role in winning World War II, will be introduced in a multimedia, 360-degree theater that will greet visitors as they step into the museum, Gillcrist said amid construction materials still piled up in the museum building. From the theater, visitors will fan out into several different permanent and rotating exhibits covering different aspects of that history in greater detail. And though the museum will cover the Great Lakes as a whole, a number of exhibits will be flagged as “Toledo stories,” he said.
Also planned are a number of special events throughout the year, including four annual lectures, a Kids Fest, a family friendly “Boo on the Boat” for the Halloween season, a Christmas Tree Ship that pays homage to a tradition in several Great Lakes ports of shipments of Christmas trees being delivered by boat or barge, and a “Boats from your Past” exhibit of pleasure and sport boats from several different eras.
A fundraiser scheduled for this winter will include raffles with cash prizes up to $10,000, and a trip on a U.S.-flagged lake freighter, Kolin said.
People interested in volunteering can also e-mail themuseum at email@example.com