2024 Spring Lecture Series Kicks Off with the Remarkable Journey of Migratory Songbirds Along the Great Lakes

On Thursday, March 14th at 7 p.m. the National Museum of the Great Lakes (NMGL) kicks off its annual Spring Lecture Series presented by Impact Employment Solutions. In the first session, “The World of Songbird Migration,” featuring Kimberly Kaufman, Executive Director of Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO), attendees will discover the remarkable journeys of migratory birds across the Great Lakes region and understand the environmental significance of their gatherings here during spring and fall.

“The annual Spring Lecture Series is a staple at the National Museum of the Great Lakes. We take pride in bringing a variety of topics and speakers to Toledo,” said Carrie Sowden,  Archaeological and Research Director with the National Museum of the Great Lakes.

Kaufman joined the BSBO in 2005 as Education Director, developing school programs and the successful Ohio Young Birders Club. She also co-founded The Biggest Week in American Birding, the largest U.S. birding festival. Under her leadership, BSBO established birding tourism in northwest Ohio, generating over $40 million annually for the local economy.

As with the entire series, this lecture will be offered as a hybrid event. Participants can choose when registering to take part in-person at the museum or online via Zoom. 

“This season, we have topics on how to interact with your environment today, the history of the study of the Great Lakes environment, and a story of racial injustice on the Great Lakes, and how it went all the way to the Supreme Court. Our spring lectures are the perfect way to reflect on the impact of the past, present, and future of our coveted natural resources,” added Sowden

The second lecture in the series, “50 Years of History and Science on the Great Lakes,” will be on April 10. The final presentation, highlighting the remarkable courage of Detroit native Sarah Elizabeth Ray and her fight against racial injustice aboard the segregated Boblo boat, SS Columbia, is scheduled for May 2.

Event registration is free, but required for all lectures. Donations are encouraged and can be given upon registration. For more information or to register to join the events, visit Eventbrite.

WHAT: 2024 Spring Lecture Series presented by Impact Employment Solutions  featuring

  • The World of Songbird Migration
  • 50 Years of History and Science on the Great Lakes
  • All Aboard: How Sarah E. Ray Integrated the Boblo Boats

WHEN:

  • The World of Songbird Migration 
    • March 14, 2024, 7 pm – 8:30 pm
  • 50 Years of History and Science on the Great Lakes
    • April 10, 2024, 7 pm – 8:30 pm 
  • All Aboard: How Sarah E. Ray Integrated the Boblo Boat 
    • May 2, 2024, 7 pm – 8:30 pm  

WHERE:

National Museum of the Great Lakes
1701 Front St., Toledo, OH 43605

Or, Online via Zoom. Registration required at: nmgl.eventbrite.com or nmgl.org/events

Elite African American WWII Tuskegee Airmen Topic of New Museum Micro Exhibit

Wednesday, February 7, 2024 (Toledo, Ohio) – This Friday, February 9, The National Museum of the Great Lakes will open a new micro exhibit titled Taking Flight: The Tuskegee Airmen and The Great Lakes. The exhibit examines the Great Lakes connection to the famed Tuskegee Airmen, an elite group of African American military pilots and airmen who fought in World War II. 

“During World War II, with a segregated military, African American men were sent to the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama to train for working in, on, and around airplanes,” shares Carrie Sowden, the museum’s Archaeological and Research Director who developed the micro exhibit and is also a part of the archaeological team studying the Tuskegee aircraft recently discovered at the bottom of Lake Huron. “Held to a much higher standard to enter the military’s aviation program, African American men graduating from Tuskegee were some of the smartest and most fit pilots of their time.” 

The exhibit uses images and words to tell visitors the story of the Great Lakes connection to the famed Tuskegee Airmen. It works to examine the elite men trained in the program and focuses particularly on the tragic story of Lt. Frank Moody, who lost his life on a training mission over Lake Huron on April 11, 1944.

Taking Flight: The Tuskegee Airmen and The Great Lakes micro exhibit is included with regular admission to the National Museum of the Great Lakes. The exhibit is available to view beginning Friday, February 9 through Sunday, March 31. For more information on the exhibit, museum hours, and ticket pricing visit nmgl.org.   

2023 Waving Through Time Banner

Museum’s Waving Through Time: Flags of the Sweetwater Seas Nautical Flag Collection Exhibit Expands Online with Part Two

Tuesday, February 16, 2024 (Toledo, Ohio) – The National Museum of the Great Lakes (NMGL) has released the first series in part two of its Waving Through Time: Flags of the Sweetwater Seas online exhibit. Every two weeks through March 26, the museum will introduce a series of flags online that have helped recreational sailors to showcase their identity as well as communicate on the Great Lakes. From yachting association celebratory flags to flags alerting boaters of weather or distress—their history and significance will be explored.

“The National Museum of the Great Lakes’ extensive collection of navigational symbols and house flags is steeped in such rich history. These flags represent the demanding travel and industrious effort that has taken place on the Great Lakes for centuries,” explains Carrie Sowden, the museum’s Archaeological and Research Director. “Our Sweetwater Seas have played an essential role in building all that we enjoy on our shores and beyond.”

Part two of the museum’s flag exhibit will be featured exclusively online. More than 95,000 square miles of navigable water has allowed a large marine recreation industry to anchor itself within our Great Lakes, and its history is captured in these symbols. Centuries of communication in recreational sailing on the Sweetwater Seas will be showcased for anyone to explore on the National Museum of the Great Lakes’s website. To access the exhibit, including part one highlighting commercial flags, visit nmgl.org/wavingthroughtime

The museum encourages individuals to follow @NMGLToledo on social media and sign-up to receive emails for new series launch notifications. The click-and-learn interactive Waving Through Time exhibit is one of many online museum learning opportunities. During the cold winter months and beyond, online visitors can also take a virtual tour of the museum and its ships, see the Port of Toledo Then & Now online exhibit, read through back issues of the award-winning Inland Seas Journal, and even shop the museum’s store. A special Captain Scupper’s Kids Club section of the website offers fun learning activities for children of all ages.

About the National Museum of the Great Lakes: Founded in 1944, the Great Lakes Historical Society has been preserving our shared cultural history by publishing a quarterly journal Inland Seas® since 1945; by operating a maritime museum since 1952; by offering educational programs to the general public since 1956; by conducting underwater archaeological research across the Great Lakes since 2001; and by managing the Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship since 2014 and Museum Tug Ohio since 2019. The opening of the National Museum of the Great Lakes enables the Great Lakes Historical Society to continue its mission to preserve and make known the important history of the Great Lakes.

WHAT: Waving through Time: Flags of the Sweetwater Seas,
PART – 2 Online Exhibit

WHEN: Part 2 will release new content every 2-weeks through 6 Series:
Series 1: January 16; Series 2: January 30; Series 3: February 13; Series 4: February 27; Series 5: March 12; Series 6: March 26

WHERE: Online: nmgl.org/wavingthroughtime

ADMISSION: FREE Interactive Online Exhibit

MEDIA CONTACT: Ellen Kennedy; 330.957.0371

2024 Great Lakes-themed Book Club Reads Released; Museum’s Hometown History is Initial Topic of Three Selections

The National Museum of the Great Lakes is seeking book lovers to join this year’s Great Lakes Book Club held on Tuesdays at noon February 6, March 5, and April 2. The virtual lunchtime discussion group features three books spanning a wide range of topics, genres, and writing styles all connected to our nation’s inland seas and will begin February 6 with a topic connected to the history of the museum’s hometown. 

“We launched our Great Lakes book club as another way to engage and connect individuals to the Great Lakes,” shares Ellen Kennedy, the director of museum operations who started the program in 2021. “Every selection for our book club is different and this year we are excited to begin the series with a history book that is connected directly to our museum’s hometown—The Toledo War: The First Michigan-Ohio Rivalry by Don Faber.”

The first virtual meeting will also feature local history author and holytoledohistory.com curator Tedd Long to co-facilitate and provide additional insight during the discussion. The museum works to select books that span from non-fiction to fiction, and cover a wide range of historical and contemporary topics about the Great Lakes. The additional featured books for the 2024 Great Lakes Book Club include The Great Lakes Water Wars by Peter Annin (March) and Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley (April).

Registration to participate in the Great Lakes book club is open to museum members and non-members. Registration is FREE but required. Participants may also choose to purchase the book(s) at the National Museum of the Great Lakes’ museum store by visiting the museum in person or by shopping online at nmglstore.org. For more information on book club events or to register to participate, visit nmgl.org/events.

WHAT: 2023 Great Lakes Book Club

WHEN: Tuesdays at 12 PM ET; February 6, March 5, and April 2, 2024

WHERE: Virtual Event

ADDITIONAL: Registration FREE but required at nmgl.org/events.
INFORMATION Participants can choose to support the museum by purchasing individual books or the book club bundle through the museum store: nmglstore.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: Ellen Kennedy; P: 330.957.0371

Museum Offers Free Admission; Introduces Micro Exhibit Partnership with Toledo Streets Newspaper

Tuesday, January 9, 2024 (Toledo, Ohio) – In honor of the community improvement and service spirit of the Martin Luther King holiday beginning Saturday, January 13 through Monday, January 15, The National Museum of the Great Lakes will offer FREE Admission to their 11,000 square foot interior exhibits and will also open a Micro Exhibit in partnership with Toledo Streets Newspaper.  

“Community Appreciation Days were born out of the Pandemic as a means to thank those who supported us during unprecedented times,” explains Ellen Kennedy, the museum’s Director of Museum Operations. “The event continues growing each year as an annual invitation to community members to start their new year off with Great Lakes history and has also become a way to increase access to our museum and its mission.”

Last year the organization launched its Museums For All initiative at the conclusion of the free weekend. That program supported nearly 500 individuals who received SNAP benefits to access the museum in 2023. This year, in addition to continuing Museums For All, the organization is partnering with Toledo Streets Newspaper, a Toledo-based nonprofit that strives to lift individuals out of poverty. Together, the two organizations will welcome a temporary Art micro exhibit Toledo Streets: Water Scenes, featuring photos of the water and land surrounding the museum’s hometown city of Toledo from a new perspective—through the lens of Toledo Streets Newspaper (TSN) Vendors. 

The Micro exhibit extends beyond the free weekend and remains open through January 28. Original artwork by TSN vendors will be showcased in the exhibit and artwork prints will be available for visitors to purchase in the Museum Store with proceeds going back to support Toledo Streets Newspaper’s mission. For more information about Community Appreciation Day and Water Scenes: An Art Micro Exhibit featuring the work of Toledo Streets Newspaper Vendors visit nmgl.org/events.

 

About Toledo Streets Newspaper: Toledo Streets is part of a global street paper movement of over 110 papers in 35 countries, all with the same goal of giving communities a program to lift individuals out of poverty through work. Established locally in 2009 to build a safe community working to break the cycle of poverty and empower entrepreneurs, the organization provides resources, training, and a voice for many individuals who don’t have one through self-employment as vendors. The TSN vision is to inspire hope, foster community, and cultivate change in individuals and society. For more information visit: www.toledostreets.com

 

About the National Museum of the Great Lakes: Founded in 1944, the Great Lakes Historical Society has published a quarterly journal Inland Seas® since 1945; operated a maritime museum since 1952; offered educational programs to the public since 1956; conducted underwater archaeological research across the Great Lakes since 2001; and managed the Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship since 2014 and Museum Tug Ohio since 2019. The opening of the National Museum of the Great Lakes enables the Great Lakes Historical Society to continue its mission to preserve and make known the important history of the Great Lakes.

 

WHAT: Community Appreciation Days & TSN Micro Exhibit: Water Scenes

WHEN: FREE ADMISSION: Saturday, January 13–Monday, January 15th

MICRO EXHIBIT: Saturday, January 13–Sunday, January 28th

WHERE: National Museum of the Great Lakes, 1701 Front St., Toledo, OH 43605

ADMISSION: FREE – All Guests January 13-15; AFTER JANUARY 15:

FREE – Children 5 and under, GLHS/NMGL Members.

$11.00 Adults (18-64); $10.00  Seniors (65+); $8.00 Youth (6-17)

MEDIA CONTACT: NMGL: Ellen Kennedy, 330.957.0371; TSN: Val Vetter, 773.621.6921

 

Museum Announces Second Wave of Growth with Expansion and New Leadership

Wednesday, November 15, 2023 (Toledo, Ohio) – This morning the National Museum of the Great Lakes (NMGL) updated stakeholders and invited guests on their vision of continued growth through facility expansion and a new leadership structure. 

The “State of the Museum” update hosted in the Museum’s Theater Gallery began with a welcome by Board Chairman and President of Interlake Steamship Company Mark Barker. Presentations were then given from current Executive Director Chris Gillcrist and Senior Director of Institutional Advancement Kate Fineske, overviewing the organization’s first decade of growth in Toledo while introducing plans for a 5,000 square foot expansion. Finally, Board Vice Chair and Port of Monroe Director Paul LaMarre concluded the update by introducing a new organizational structure including the elevation of Kate Fineske as the museum’s new Executive Director effective January 1, 2024. 

“We’ve seen steady growth since opening our doors in Toledo nearly a decade ago and feel fortunate to have Kate Fineske’s leadership as we look towards our next decade of growth,” shared LaMarre, who has played an integral role in the museum’s growth and success since the early days of its inception. “When the museum’s longtime executive director Chris Gillcrist began conversations around his eventual retirement, there was not a doubt in our minds that Kate was the right individual to fill his shoes. The increased local visibility after the opening of Glass City Metroparks gave us confidence that the time was right to not just grow physically but also adjust our leadership in a way that will allow us to continue to grow our connections locally and across the Great Lakes region.” 

Beginning in the new year, Gillcrist, who has led the organization since 1999, will become Emeritus Director primarily focused on driving the museum’s historical programming. Fineske, who previously oversaw museum communications, fundraising and community partnerships, will assume the Executive Director role—steering the museum’s growth and operations and carrying out its mission according to the strategic direction of its board of directors. To support the museum’s unprecedented growth, the museum’s current Director of Education and Visitor Experience, Ellen Kennedy, will be elevated to Director of Museum Operations. 

In addition to announcing new leadership, the museum also shared museum expansion plans which are intended to break ground late in Spring of 2024. The expansion will provide additional permanent exhibit space, dedicated room for temporary exhibits, and a new Great Lakes Community Education Center, among other things. The expansion will further the museum’s vision of becoming the premiere place for Great Lakes conversations to take place.

“We started planning for this growth just prior to the pandemic with an anticipated cost of around $3.8 Million. Post pandemic era costs have caused that number to rise to $5.5 Million and, to date, we have raised over $4 Million of the necessary funds,” acknowledged Kate Fineske, who has been supporting fundraising efforts since she joined the team in 2019. “What’s more, we are extremely proud that over 75% of those funds raised are derived from sources outside of Lucas County—revenue directly benefiting the people of greater Toledo.” 

The organization has also secured over half a million dollars designated to further education growth connected to their expansion including a $100,000 gift from longtime supporters Todd and Molly Sommers and a transformational $500,000 gift from the Clement O Miniger Memorial Foundation. These gifts are meant to ensure Great Lakes History is accessible and understood for generations to come by providing funding for the educational aspects related to the expansion’s success beyond simply “bricks and mortar.”

The State of the Museum was recorded and available to view in its entirety to museum members and the public on our YouTube page here. 


About the National Museum of the Great Lakes: Founded in 1944, the Great Lakes Historical Society has been preserving our shared cultural history by publishing a quarterly journal Inland Seas® since 1945; by operating a maritime museum since 1952; by offering educational programs to the general public since 1956; by conducting underwater archaeological research across the Great Lakes since 2001; and by managing the Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship since 2014 and Museum Tug Ohio since 2019. The opening of the National Museum of the Great Lakes enables the Great Lakes Historical Society to continue its mission to preserve and make known the important history of the Great Lakes.

MEDIA CONTACT: Kate Fineske; 419.265.4967

Museum offering Fitzgerald Experience, unique tour discussing one of the most notable shipwrecks in Great Lakes history

Tuesday, October 17, 2023 (Toledo, Ohio) – The weekend of Saturday, November 11 and Sunday, November 12, the National Museum of the Great Lakes will honor the 48th Anniversary of the loss of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald by offering special tours. The Fitzgerald Experience is a guided tour of the Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship, using the lake freighter and its similarities to the Edmund Fitzgerald to discuss the events of November 10, 1975, theories surrounding the sinking and stories about the 29 crew members who were lost. 

“The sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald was a momentous moment in Great Lakes history,” explained Ellen Kennedy, the museum’s Education and Visitor Experience Director. “Guests will come away from these tours with a deeper understanding of the impact of that loss.”

Tickets for the 75-minute tour are $20 for members and $25 for non-members, which includes admission to the National Museum of the Great Lakes. Each tour will be limited to 8 people. Guests will also receive a museum store discount of 10% (non-members) / 20% (members) off in-store purchases. Advance registration is recommended. For more information on this and our other programs or to register to join the tours, visit nmgl.org/event.

Due to its historical accuracy, the Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship is not handicap or wheelchair accessible. Narrow, steep staircases are common throughout the Schoonmaker and may provide difficulties in accessibility for some. The Schoonmaker is also not heated and much of the tour is on uncovered decks. Guests are encouraged to dress appropriately for the weather. If it is determined that the tours are impossible due to the weather, a refund of the ticket price (minus fees) will be provided. No make-up date is planned. You can process a refund (minus fees) and cancel your ticket up to 7 days before the event.

2023 Fall Lecture 2 - Ford Motor

‘Ford Motor Company—A Great Lakes Manufacturer’ Is Museum’s Second Lecture of Its Fall Lecture Series

October 10, 2023 (Toledo, Ohio) – For its second installment in a series of three lectures, the National Museum of the Great Lakes will feature Ford Motor Company’s influence as a manufacturer in the Great Lakes region. Ford Motor Company—A Great Lakes Manufacturer: Manufacturing Men and Machines in the Pursuit of the First Universal Car will take place Wednesday, October 25 at 7 p.m. The lecture will explore the history of the Ford Motor Company, a Great Lakes cornerstone industry with historian and American Queen Voyage’s Senior Lakelorian Ian Ross.

“Manufacturing has long played an integral part in Great Lakes history,” explained Carrie Sowden, the museum’s Archaeological and Research Director who also oversees the museum’s lecture series. “As a long-time Great Lakes Region resident, trained historian, and onboard lakelorian, Ian Ross has a wide lens and fascinating insights to share about Ford Motor Company’s role.”

Ian Ross grew up just south of Cleveland in the Lake Erie watershed. Ross is a 2011 graduate of the University of Cincinnati, where he received a Master’s of Arts in History. Since graduation, Ian has done research for the Cincinnati Public Library and Walsh University and volunteers at the McKinley Presidential Library in Canton, Ohio. He is currently the Senior Lakelorian and program director for the historical lecture series onboard the American Queen Voyages ships Ocean Voyager and Ocean Navigator, where he gives daily talks about the Great Lakes. 

The fall series concludes on November 15 with Dugout Canoes of Wisconsin, a presentation by Professor of Archaeology in the Anthropology Department at UW-Madison Sissel Schroeder. To accommodate all who would like to participate, the events will be hybrid, allowing for both in-person and Zoom attendance. Because of their popularity, registration for all lectures, although free, is required. Donations are encouraged and can be given upon registration. For more information on our full line-up for our Fall Lecture Series or to register to join the events, visit nmgl.org/event.

“Boo on the Boat” Halloween Tradition Returns at the National Museum of the Great Lakes

October 5, 2023 (Toledo, Ohio) – Beginning on Friday, October 27 through Sunday October 29, the National Museum of the Great Lakes (NMGL) invites visitors to trick-or-treat aboard two of Toledo’s most haunted historic vessels—the Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship and the Museum Tug Ohio

“Boo on the Boat has become a National Museum of the Great Lakes’ tradition that is both fun and educational,” shares Ellen Kennedy, the museum’s Director of Education and Visitor Experience. “The event takes place over multiple days just prior to Halloween—providing flexibility to fit trick-or-treating into your schedule on a weekday or weekend.”

Young “goblins and ghouls” can trick-or-treat in costume from our museum vessels’ pilot houses to the galleys and everywhere in between while on a scavenger hunt for goodies. Treats will be distributed using pre-portioned, sealed bags at stations to help youth explore Great Lakes history in a fun and age-appropriate way. Children with food allergies will have access to non-food treats in alignment with the Teal Pumpkin Project. In addition, this program is available for free to individuals who qualify for Museums For All, a new access program at the National Museum of the Great Lakes where those receiving food assistance (SNAP benefits) can gain free or reduced admission using their SNAP EBT card.

National Museum of the Great Lakes members can enjoy Boo on the Boat activities for free and non-members can join in the fun simply by purchasing general museum and ship combo admission. Non-museum guests may consider additional savings and access to the museum year-round by purchasing a membership. All children must be accompanied to the event by an adult. To learn more and reserve your tickets visit nmgl.org/events/.

Museum’s Free Lecture Series Returns This Fall; Ethical Logging on the Great Lakes is the First Topic

Tuesday, September 19, 2023 (Toledo, Ohio)October will bring the return of the popular National Museum of the Great Lakes lecture series. The 2023 Fall Lecture Series kicks off Thursday, October 5 at 7 p.m. with Natalie Cypher, Educator of the Michigan DNR Outdoor Adventure Center, presenting about the impact of logging along the Great Lakes.

“Having a naturalist, educator, and all-around wildlife enthusiast with such a deep understanding of Great Lakes logging history speak will be a rich addition to our lecture series,” said Carrie Sowden, the museum’s Archaeological and Research Director who also oversees the museum’s lecture series. “Cypher is both a great informational resource and a great environmental educator, stringing together more than a century of natural resource management’s importance in the Great Lakes region.”

In a hmana.org article featuring Cypher, she talked about her love for her work. “I feel beyond fortunate regularly that my work allows me to combine several passions—my love of nature, with teaching and sharing. I have worked for many years in Interpretation and Environmental
Education in the metro-Detroit area.” For her museum lecture, Cypher will present Logging and the Birth of a Land Ethic, which uncovers the roots of logging across the Great Lakes states and explains how it pushed natural resource management to evolve over the decades.

The second installment of the 2023 Fall Lecture Series, Ford Motor Company—A Great Lakes Manufacturer: Manufacturing Men and Machines in the Pursuit of the First Universal Car, will take place on Wednesday, October 25. Senior Lakelorian and Program Director for American Queen Cruiselines’ onboard historical lecture series, Ian Ross, will come ashore to present.

The fall series concludes on November 15 with a presentation on Dugout Canoes of Wisconsin. To accommodate all who would like to participate, the events will be hybrid, allowing for both in-person and Zoom attendance. Because of their popularity, registration for all lectures, although free, is required. Donations are encouraged and can be given upon registration. For more information on our full line-up for our Fall Lecture Series or to register to join the events, visit nmgl.org/event.