New museum will provide an interactive Great Lakes experienceWritten by Jay Hathaway | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A new Toledo museum will provide visitors with an interactive Great Lakes experience.
The Great Lakes Historical Society (GLHS) has announced the grand opening of the National Museum of the Great Lakes, located at the Toledo Maritime Center, 1701 Front St., will be held 10 a.m. April 26.
Along with the museum, visitors will be able to step aboard the SS Col. James M. Schoonmaker, formerly the Willis B Boyer, and enjoy an outdoor maritime park.
Anna Kolin, development director for the museum, said the idea for the location began in 2003 when the GLHS decided to move its original museum in Vermillion, Ohio, to a more expansive facility.
They found the then-unused Maritime Plaza in Toledo, along with the Willis B. Boyer, which was then being maintained by the city.
“They were very close to scrapping the ship,” Kolin said. “There was a group of diligent people at The Toledo Club who had gathered together to save the ship, and it was about the same time that the Great Lakes Historical Society started having conversations with them. It seemed like a perfect connection to move the ship down there and bring the museum to Toledo.”
In 2009, restoration began on the Boyer, including a reversion to its original name and colors. One year later, it was moved next to the new site of the museum.
Though it is not the first museum dedicated to Great Lakes history and lore, Kolin said the National Museum is unique in its comprehensive exhibits and interactive experience.
“It’s not just a regional museum. It talks about how all the Great Lakes affect the continent as a whole. It truly includes all of the Great Lakes,” Kolin said. “We talk about industry, the War of 1812 and World War II and the training of Air Force pilots on the Great Lakes.
“Then we move into shipwrecks and survival, which is probably the most romanticized of all of the areas.”
Kolin said there have been more than 8,000 shipwrecks on the Great Lakes, and the museum will include artifacts from many of them, including a life raft from perhaps the most famous, the Edmund Fitzgerald.
Visitors will also be able to take part in simulated shipwreck dives, and control a camera that will allow them to explore the wreckage.
“There’s a lot of footage that you can see from actual dives,” Kolin said. “It’s kind of like you are actually diving down into the ship.”
“It’s an integration of hands-on exhibits and artifacts.”
During warmer months, a tour of the ship will be included with admission. Kolin said a lower price of admission will be offered during inclement weather and cold months, because the walking surfaces of the ship can get slippery.
Adjacent to the museum is a 3.5-acre maritime-themed park area. Inside the park is a “grand plaza,” featuring a huge concrete inset of the Great Lakes. The Arts Commission also worked with the GLHS to provide several Great Lakes-themed poems in the concrete paths leading into the plaza.
Regular hours of operation will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Adult admission for both the museum and the ship is $12, $8 for the museum only. Children ages 6-18 and seniors older than 65 get $1 off. Children 5 and younger are free.
For more information, visit www.inlandseas.org/museum.
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