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Museum Announces Access Program for Low-Income Individuals and Families

January 17, 2023 (Toledo, Ohio) – The National Museum of the Great Lakes (NMGL) is pleased to announce it has joined Museums For All—a program providing free and reduced admission to those receiving food assistance (SNAP) benefits. With the presentation of a SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, museum visitors receive free admission to its 11,000 square-foot interior museum and $3 admission inclusive of the Museum Ships.

“Museums for All is a national, branded access program that encourages individuals of all backgrounds to visit museums regularly and build lifelong museum habits,” shares Ellen Kennedy, NMGL’s Education and Visitor Experience Director. “Standard admission to our museum ranges from $8-17. We recognize this can be a barrier for many low-income families and want to eliminate that barrier.”

By participating in Museums for All, the National Museum of the Great Lakes can offer access to a greater percentage of individuals. It is part of the museum’s broad commitment to seek, include, and welcome all audiences through their doors. The museum already offers various free programming, as well as educational field trip grants.

Museums for All is a program of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), administered by the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM). More than 850 institutions participate in the initiative, including art museums, children’s museums, science centers, botanical gardens, zoos, history museums, and more. Participating museums are located nationwide, representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Virgin Islands.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About Association of Children’s Museums (ACM)The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) champions children’s museums worldwide. With more than 460 members in 50 states and 16 countries, ACM leverages the collective knowledge of children’s museums through convening, sharing, and dissemination. Learn more at

Free Museum Admission Banner 2022

Museum Celebrates Community with Free Admission

January 10, 2023 (Toledo, Ohio) – In the community improvement and service spirit of the Martin Luther King holiday, beginning Saturday, January 14, through Monday, January 16th, The National Museum of the Great Lakes will open their doors for FREE in recognition of the support visitors, members and community partners have shown over the years. 

“We will be celebrating the re-opening after our annual cleaning shutdown as well as welcoming a new year with an extended weekend of FREE admission, ” shares National Museum of the Great Lakes Education and Visitor Experience Director Ellen Kennedy. “We love showing off our incredible facilities and couldn’t think of a better way to enter 2023 than offering this.”

The museum originally introduced Community Appreciation Days in 2021 after being inspired to give back to those who generously continued to support our mission with the onset of the pandemic. “We appreciate all the support our community provides and are always looking for ways to connect more people with Great Lakes history as well as say thank you,” adds Kate Fineske, the museum’s Senior Director of Institutional Advancement. 

Museum admission is always free for members, with non-member museum-only admission ranging from $8 – 11. Over Martin Luther King Day weekend the museum will be open from 10 – 5 p.m. on Saturday and Monday and Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday with free admission for all visitors. 

Although not required, individuals may reserve their free tickets by pre-ordering and scheduling their visit online at For more information on visitation, visit us online or call 419-214-5000. 

Museum Kicks Off 2023 Great Lakes Book Club

December 29th, 2022 (Toledo, Ohio) – The National Museum of the Great Lakes is kicking off 2023 programming season with our virtual lunchtime Great Lakes Book Club, featuring three books meant to provide new insights into our nation’s inland seas. The museum is encouraging interested participants to grab their own lunch and join others online for three monthly guided discussions held Tuesdays at noon on January 31, February 28, and March 28. 

“We created this book club last year as a great way to get people to engage and learn more about the Great Lakes,” shares Ellen Kennedy, Education and Visitor Experience Director at the National Museum of the Great Lakes. “This year we choose three different books that span from non-fiction to fiction, and cover a wide range of historical and contemporary topics about the Great Lakes. So whether you’re a boat-nerd, history buff, or nature-lover, there is a little something for everyone.”

The featured books for this year include: Floating Palaces of the Great Lakes by Joel Stone (January), The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan (February), and Sisters of Sweetwater Fury by Kinley Bryan (March). On January 31, author Joel Stone, will join in on the discussion to answer questions and provide insight into his book’s topic.Registration to participate in the Great Lakes book club is FREE but also required. Participants can choose to purchase the book(s) at the museum store by visiting the museum in person or by shopping online at For more information on book club events or to register to participate, visit

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.


2022 Christmas Tree Ship Holiday Tradition (EVENT CANCELED)

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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 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 or call 419-214-5000.

2022 Boo on the Boat Banner

“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

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:

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

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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

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

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

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