The 2022 Christmas Tree Ship is CANCELED

Wednesday, November 30, 2022 (Toledo, Ohio)  – Due to forecasted high winds, the National Museum of the Great Lakes has made the tough decision to cancel our annual Christmas Tree Ship event which was scheduled to take place from 1-4 p.m. Individuals who purchased a tree for themselves will still be able to pick up their tree at the museum from 1 – 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 3 or can receive a full refund. 

Additionally, the museum will still be collecting donations towards gift cards for holiday needs in support of East Toledo Family Center,  Family House, Lucas County Children’s Services, and Sylvania Area Family Services. To donate holiday gift card support us online at our event page or call 419-214-5000. Anyone who donates towards a gift card online, over the phone, or at the museum will receive free admission to the museum on Saturday, December 3 or Sunday, December 4.

DONATE HOLIDAY SUPPORT HERE.

2022 Christmas Tree Ship Holiday Tradition (EVENT CANCELLED)

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November 11, 2022 (Toledo, Ohio) – On Saturday, December 3 from 1-4pm the National Museum of the Great Lakes will welcome the arrival of the Christmas Tree Ship. Together in partnership with Geo. Gradel Co., individuals are invited to purchase a Christmas Tree for themselves or a family in need and then watch Santa arrive with a boatload of trees.

“On November 23, 1912, the schooner Rouse Simmons sank while carrying Christmas trees,” shares Ellen Kennedy, the museum’s Director of Education and Visitor Experience. “Known as the Christmas Tree Ship, her captain, lovingly referred to as “Captain Santa”, was remembered for giving trees to families in need.”

Inspired by the original Christmas Tree Ship tale, participants can pre-purchase a live Christmas Tree for themselves and/or donate a tree or gift card to a family in need. The museum has partnered with United Way of Greater Toledo and 2-1-1 and are working with East Toledo Family Center, Family House, Lucas County Children’s Services, and Sylvania Area Family Services to distribute trees and holiday support to families in need.

This year, in collaboration with the East Toledo community, the museum will host the event in the afternoon to encourage visitors to participate in the neighboring East Toledo Holiday Parade beginning at 11 a.m. and traveling along East Broadway and Starr Avenue.

This is a FREE outdoor event and will be open to the general public. In addition, admission to the museum exhibits will be free for all who purchase a tree, donate a tree, or donate towards a gift card. To learn more about the event, purchase a tree for yourself or a family in need, or donate holiday gift card support visit nmgl.org/events or call 419-214-5000. Individuals interested in learning more about receiving a donated tree are encouraged to call 2-1-1.

Museum Hosts Exclusive Tours in Honor of S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald Tragic Anniversary

Thursday, October 20, 2022 (Toledo, Ohio) In recognition of the 47th Anniversary of the loss of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald, the National Museum of the Great Lakes (NMGL) is offering a weekend of special tours on November 12 and 13. 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 vessel’s sinking, and stories about the 29 crew members who were lost.

“Much of the Fitzgerald’s crew originated from the state of Ohio—some of which grew up and lived right here in Toledo,” recalls Ellen Kennedy, the museum’s Education and Visitor Experience Director. “These tours allow guests a hands-on opportunity to uncover and learn about what happened to the ship and crew that fateful night, and understand the everlasting impact of the tragedy.”

Although the Col. James M. Schoonmaker museum ship is closed for the season beginning on November 1, the vessel will reopen again exclusively for guests to have this unique touring experience. Each tour will be limited to a small group of no more than 8 people and lasts approximately 75 minutes. Tickets are $20 for members and $25 for non-members. Due to tour popularity and size limitations, it is strongly recommended that tickets be purchased in advance. Guests can also take advantage of an additional 10-15% discount on museum store purchases. For additional information and to purchase tickets, visit nmgl.org/events or call 419-214-5000.

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

Friday, October 14, 2022 (Toledo, Ohio) – Beginning on Friday, October 28 through Sunday October 30, 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 will take 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.

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 October Lecture Highlights Lake Erie’s Deadly Undercurrent with Author Wendy Koile

Tuesday, October 4, 2022 (Toledo, Ohio) – Lake Erie is known for its beauty and tranquility, but a dark, deadly undercurrent also lurks beneath its surface. On Wednesday, October 26, join author Wendy Koile as she wades into the depths of this great but deadly lake in the second presentation of the National Museum of the Great Lakes’ 2022 Fall Lecture Series titled Lake Erie Murder & Mayhem.


“Bordering four states and two countries, some might say the ‘inland ocean’ of Lake Erie offers the perfect getaway for criminals of all kinds,” shares Carrie Sowden, the museum’s Archaeological and Research Director who also coordinates NMGL’s lecture series. “From bandits and con artists, to pirates and murderers, Ms. Koile will join us to bring alive stories in history featuring tales like the robbers who held up the Ashtabula National Marine Bank, a murderer who slipped away on a luxury cruise ship, and the corpse found floating in near a lightkeepers post.”


The presenter, Wendy Koile is the Director of Teaching and Learning and a part-time English instructor at Central Ohio Technical College. She holds a master’s in teaching, as well as a master’s in the Art of English and has been an avid Lake Erie lover her entire life. Ms. Kolie’s discussion at the museum will cover many of the stories featured in her same-titled book Lake Erie Murder & Mayhem.


Offered as a hybrid event, participants can choose when registering to take part in the lecture in person at the museum or online via Zoom with an option to purchase the book for either participation preference. The lecture is free, but registration is required. For more information on this event and the final lecture in the Fall Series or to register to participate and/or purchase Ms. Kolie’s book, visit the link below: https://nmgl.org/event.

American Queen Voyages™ Partners with the National Museum of the Great Lakes to Introduce Lakelorian for the 2023 Season

September 22, 2022 (Toledo, Ohio) American Queen Voyages, part of the Hornblower® Group, is partnering with the National Museum of the Great Lakes to create a new Lakelorian program for the Lakes & Oceans fleet. Kicking off the 2023 Great Lakes season in Toronto in May, Ocean Voyager and Ocean Navigator will each include a permanent lecturer on each sailing, holding the title of Lakelorian, similar to the Riverlorian onboard each American Queen Voyages paddlewheeler. The Lakelorian will lead lectures, host discussions and answer questions throughout the journey across these mighty bodies of freshwater. With equal parts knowledge and passion for the Great Lakes, Lakelorians will be selected and provide exclusive programming in collaboration with the renowned National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo, OH.

“Our partnership with American Queen Voyages began taking shape in 2020 with their extraordinary support of Great Lakes history through an 11-day Great Lakes cruise donation which we used as the grand prize for our Luck of the Lakes Raffle,” shares Kate Fineske, senior director of institutional advancement, National Museum of the Great Lakes. “Since then, we have come to recognize American Queen Voyages Lakes & Oceans ships as floating ambassadors of the Great Lakes, bringing thousands of visitors from around the world to deeply discover our region’s rich history. We look forward to Ocean Voyager and Ocean Navigator becoming an extension of the National Museum of the Great Lakes through this innovative Lakelorian program, and welcoming guests to discover our museum and all we have to offer.”

Just as the rivers of America are a great source of history and culture, the Great Lakes hold a treasure trove of information worthy of a dedicated lecturer. The Lakelorian will share and enlighten guests on the uniqueness of each port in the Great Lakes and be a welcomed storyteller of the region, versed in its history and the support of The National Museum of the Great Lakes for expertise. The Lakelorian will hold daily Lake Chats in the Tavern or Compass Lounge to provide information about the town or city in which American Queen Voyages is visiting for the day. In addition to the daily lectures, each sailing will feature an exclusive lecture highlighting a current exhibit at The National Museum of the Great Lakes.

“The 2022 Lakes & Oceans season has been an incredible success showcasing what makes exploring the Great Lakes onboard Ocean Voyager and Ocean Navigator such an extraordinary experience ,” said Bill Annand, vice president of Vessel Operations Lakes & Oceans for American Queen Voyages and a proud lifelong Michigander himself. “From exclusively docking in downtown Chicago at Navy Pier to maiden arrivals in smaller ports like Green Bay and Sturgeon Bay, guests aboard these vessels witness what makes the Great Lakes so special. The National Museum of the Great Lakes has been an invaluable resource. We are excited to support the museum in Toledo on Sept. 24 at their H2Oh! Gala providing this year’s winner of another Great Lakes Cruise and to continue to grow our partnership through our Lakelorian program. The National Museum of the Great Lakes reveals the varied and fascinating history of our treasured Great Lakes, which make up 84% of all of the freshwater in North America. Guests can join these sailings to explore the history of the world’s greatest natural resource—from canoes and schooners to early steamers and freighters—some of which ply the mighty Maumee River right next to the Museum.”

Ocean Voyager and Ocean Navigator hold only 202 guests, delivering immersive Lakes & Oceans experiences in North America sailing the Great Lakes, Canada and New England. American Queen Voyages Great Lakes voyages of 11- to 16-days call on North America’s historic five Great Lakes and the storied St. Lawrence River. Port highlights include exploring the Victorian-era charm of Mackinac Island, historic Soo Locks, breathtaking Manitoulin Island, the largest freshwater island in the world, the world-famous Horseshoe Falls of Niagara Falls, the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. All cruises include a pre-cruise hotel night and in Chicago offer an optional of the iconic architecture tour from the water. In addition, guests sailing on the fall Great Lakes itineraries will enjoy overnight excursions in several city ports for the first-time including Toronto, Quebec City and Mackinac Island on American Queen Voyages.

Individuals can still purchase Luck of the Lakes Raffle tickets for a chance to win an 11-day American Queen Voyages cruise and to support the National Museum of the Great Lakes. For more information on the raffle and to purchase a ticket visit NMGL.org.

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 About American Queen Voyages

American Queen Voyages, recently ranked the top U.S. river cruise line and #5 globally by TRAVEL+LEISURE magazine, offers the most varied and comprehensive portfolio of North American itineraries and experiences, comprised of Rivers, Lakes & Oceans and Expedition, which includes new Alaska and Central America expedition experiences. To book or for more information on American Queen Voyages, contact your travel professional or call 833-598-0119 or visit www.AQVoyages.com.


About Hornblower Group

Hornblower Group is a global leader in world-class experiences.  The corporate entity of Hornblower Group is comprised of American Queen Voyages® and City Experiences.  Seaward Services, Inc., a marine services company specializing in the operation, maintenance and repair of government and privately owned vessels, is also a subsidiary of Hornblower Group, operating and maintaining U.S. Navy Ranges and port facilities, including local oil spill response.  Today, Hornblower’s footprint spans 111 countries and territories, and 125 U.S. cities, with offerings including water-based experiences, land-based experiences, overnight cruise experiences, ferry and transportation services and full-service support via Hornblower Shipyard at Bridgeport Boatworks in Connecticut.   Hornblower Group is headquartered in San Francisco, California, with additional corporate offices in Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; London, United Kingdom; New Albany, Indiana; New York, New York; and across Ontario, Canada.  For more information visit hornblowercorp.com.


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 archeological 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.

Museum’s 2022 Fall Lecture Series Takes Flight Featuring Famed WWII Tuskegee Airman

September 13, 2022 (Toledo, Ohio) On Wednesday, September 28, at 7 p.m. the National Museum of the Great Lakes (NMGL) will kick off their annual fall lecture series with “Last Flight of a Tuskegee Airman” featuring underwater archaeologist Wayne Lusardi.

“On April 11, 1944, Second Lt. Frank Moody, a manner of the Tuskegee Airmen, lost his life on a training mission over Lake Huron,” shares NMGL’s Archaeological and Research Director Carrie Sowden. “The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of African American military pilots and airmen who fought in World War II. To help explore their story and this tragedy, we’ve asked Mr. Lusardi to join us in sharing his investigation of the archaeological site and theories of what may have happened on that fateful day.”  

The presenter, Wayne Lusardi, is the State Maritime Archaeologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Through his work, he is responsible for the research, documentation, preservation, and management of nearly 200 shipwrecks located in and around Thunder Bay, and another 1,300 around the State of Michigan. Although Mr. Lusardi will be presenting virtually, individuals who register for the lecture will have the option to watch him at the Museum during an in-person watch party and live-streamed question and answer session.    

This is the first of three lectures in the museum’s 2022 Fall Lecture Series. On Wednesday, October 26 the museum will feature Author Wendy Kolie who will uncover the deadly undercurrent lurking beneath Lake Erie’s surface in “Lake Erie Murder and Mayhem”. Then, on Wednesday, November 9 NMGL’s final lecture will take a comprehensive look at the only floating US Post Office by presenting “Mail By the Pail: The History of the J.W. Westcott Co.” 

All lectures are hybrid events—meaning participants can choose when registering to take part in the lecture at the museum or online via Zoom. Event registration is required but free. Donations are encouraged and can be given upon registration. For more information on the spring lectures or to register to join the event, visit nmgl.org.

For more information, call 419-214-5000, visit our event page here.

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Great Lakes Maritime Art Temporary Exhibit drives Museum and Community College Partnership

Friday, August 26, 2022 (Toledo, Ohio)The National Museum of the Great Lakes (NMGL) is partnering with Owens Community College (OCC) to feature maritime art from the 19th and 20th century through a temporary exhibit at the Walter E. Terhune Gallery at Owens Community College’s Center for Fine and Performing Arts. The exhibit opens to the public Monday, August 29 and will remain available through Friday, October 21.

“The museum is always looking for ways to increase access to Great Lakes history,” explains Kate Fineske, NMGL’s Senior Director of Institutional Advancement. “We began collaborative discussions over a year ago and are thrilled to have found an opportunity to showcase part of our 250+ two-dimensional art collection on the campus.”

Owens Community College will host an opening reception for the temporary exhibit on Tuesday, August 30 and will also shine a spotlight on the exhibit in October during the first concert of their 7th Annual Accent on the Arts! Series featuring Russ Franzen. The latter free concert highlights a maritime artist and acts as an educational experience—designed, booked, promoted and presented by Owens Community College Music Business Technology students. 

“Mr. Franzen is an acoustic storyteller sharing original songs about lighthouses, lake boats, shipwrecks, canals and life along the Great Lakes,” recalls Denise Grupp-Verbon, Internship Manager, at Owens Community College’s School of Liberal Arts. “The museum’s art exhibit provided inspiration for an excellent student-focus project on this subject!” 

The Walter E. Terhune Gallery is located within Owens Community College’s Center for Fine and Performing Arts and is open for free to the public during set times each week. For more information on the exhibit and related events visit nmgl.org/events or owens.edu/fpa.

Golf Aboard the Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship Returns in Time for Dana Open!

Thursday, August 18, 2022 (Toledo, Ohio) – Beginning Thursday, August 25, the National Museum of the Great Lakes invites visitors to take a swing (or two!) on our custom built putting greens aboard the Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship. Created to celebrate the sport of golf, this year the event boasts not just one, but two putting greens and is scheduled to coincide with the Dana Open Presented by Marathon, an LPGA tour stop taking place nearby in Sylvania, Ohio.

“Spanning nearly 30 ft. across the museum ship’s deck and overlooking the ‘Mighty Maumee’ and Downtown Toledo, the ‘Freighter Golf’ putting greens are both complete with maritime-themed obstacles and aim to challenge and provide fun for any age or skill level,” shares Ellen Kennedy, the museum’s Director of Education and Visitor Experience.

“Freighter Golf” will open for use through Sunday, September 11. Access to the green is included with Museum Ship admission and visitors are being challenged to sink a hole-in-one to take home a special prize and be entered in a drawing for a free museum membership. The putting green and hole-in-one challenge will be open for visitors during the regular museum hours of 10 a.m – 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon – 5 p.m. Sunday. For additional information visit nmgl.org/events or call 419-214-5000.

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Gathering 55 Years After Ship’s Sinking Prompts Museum’s Special Offsite Lecture

Thursday, July 21, 2022 (Toledo, Ohio)On Saturday, August 13, at 1 p.m., the National Museum of the Great Lakes will host a special lecture at Fifth Third Center Auditorium titled: Daniel J. Morrell: Lost but No Longer Forgotten. The presentation, given by Great Lakes marine historian John DeBeck, will share stories from his research about the loss of the Morrell as well as discuss new discoveries and include the dive footage from DeBeck’s research team.

“In November of 1966, the Daniel J. Morrell, broke in half in a strong storm on Lake Huron— taking with her 28 of the 29 crewmen, “shares Chris Gillcrist, Executive Director of the National Musuem of the Great Lakes. “Only one of her crew, Dennis Hale, lived to tell the story of what happened.”

In 2018, presenter John DeBeck began the research that would become his book The Daniel J. Morrell: Lost but No Longer Forgotten. DeBeck was a 33 year friend of Dennis Hale, who passed away in 2015. DeBeck spent months re-locating the families of the 29 crew members to learn their stories. With his research bringing up more questions than answers, DeBeck then assembled a team to get to the bottom of what really caused the ship to sink.

“After being separated for 55 years, many of the families and important guests stated they would like to have an annual gathering to stay in touch,” recalls DeBeck about his upcoming lecture in Toledo. “As a fair number of the families are within a day’s driving distance or less of Toledo, I thought working in partnership with the museum would help provide the ideal place for our gathering.” 

Due to capacity limitations and because a large crowd is expected to attend, the lecture will not be held at the National Museum of the Great Lakes and instead will take place at the auditorium located on the 2nd floor of Fifth Third Center. Tickets are $5 for NMGL Members and $8 for non-members. For additional information and to purchase tickets visit nmgl.org/events or call 419-214-5000.