New ‘Bradstreet’s Disaster’ Temporary Micro-exhibit Takes Visitors Back in Time

October 12, 2021 (Toledo, Ohio) The National Museum of the Great Lakes has opened up a temporary new “micro-exhibit” highlighting the story of Col. John Bradstreet’s disastrous campaign during “Pontiac’s Rebellion” after the French and Indian War. 

“It was October 18, 1764, when Col. John Bradstreet took upwards of 60 bateaus and 9 canoes and landed near what is now Rocky River, Ohio,” shares Carrie Sowden, the National Museum of the Great Lakes’ Archaeological and Research Director. “Overnight a vicious storm wiped out almost half the fleet. When all was said and done, Col. Bradstreet’s entire campaign was not just unsuccessful, but disastrous.” 

In the years since, remnants from Bradstreet’s disaster have appeared on and been discovered around Rocky River’s beaches. The findings continue to tell the story of this Great Lakes history era. “Among the artifacts in the collection are a swivel gun and accessories,” explains Mrs. Sowden. “There is even a highly decorated piece yet to be identified. Who knows, maybe we can learn more about this mystery item through exhibit display?” 

The “Bradstreet’s Disaster” micro-exhibit is included with the price of general admission and is scheduled to stay up through the Winter of 2022. The museum is also hosting a presentation at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 10 to further explore the historical context around Bradstreet’s Disaster, the making of the micro-exhibit, and the archaeological finds from Rocky River. For more information, call 419-214-5000, visit our event page here.

Fall Lecture Series sets sail with a “Message in a Bottle

October 6, 2021 (Toledo, Ohio) On Wednesday, October 20, at 7 p.m. the National Museum of the Great Lakes (NMGL) will begin their annual fall lecture series with “Bottled Goodbyes”—a conversation exploring famous messages that have floated ashore. Presented by Ric Mixter and based on his newest book Bottled Goodbyes—Messages from Shipwreck and Aviation Disasters, the lecture tells tales from the Great Storm of 1913, to the development of the radio (which ultimately led to a decrease in bottled messages).

“The storied ‘message-in-a-bottle’ is a concept that intrigues many of us,” says Christopher Gillcrist, the National Museum of the Great Lakes’ Executive Director. “There have been alleged bottled messages connected to U.S. Presidents, and discoveries of bottles capturing the last days of lost souls sailing the Inland Seas. Mr. Mixter introduces a historical phenomenon connected to every one of our five Great Lakes and beyond.”  

Ric Mixter is an Emmy nominated documentary filmmaker, author, and historian who has also served as a SCUBA cameraman on underwater expeditions to the Great Lakes’ largest shipwrecks. He has interviewed dozens of shipwreck survivors and consistently delivers standing-room-only crowds for his repeat presentations all over the Great Lakes.   

This is the first in a series of lectures in the museum’s 2021 fall series and will be 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. Event registration is required but free. Donations are encouraged and can be given upon registration.

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

Labor Day Free Admission to Union Members

August 31, 2021 (Toledo, Ohio) The National Museum of the Great Lakes will open its doors FREE on Labor Day (Monday, September 6) to all union members and union retirees.

“The museum recognizes the importance of honoring the American labor movement and the works and contributions of laborers to the development and achievements of the United States,” says the museum’s Executive Director Chris Gillcrist.

Labor Day is also the last day of the museum’s temporary exhibit Jim Hoffman: The Photographic Life of Toledo’s Original Boatnerd and the final day of Freighter Golf—a putt-putt hole-in-one challenge aboard the Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship. Both the temporary exhibit and putt-putt challenge are included with museum ship admission.

Tickets can be purchased ahead of time online at nmgl.org, however, reservations are not required. Proof of union membership will be requested upon arrival.

Museum Ship Installs Temporary Putt-putt Challenge as the Countdown to Solheim Continues

August 17, 2021 (Toledo, Ohio) To celebrate the sport of golf and the City of Toledo (host to this year’s international Solheim Cup) the National Museum of the Great Lakes has temporarily installed a custom-built putt-putt green onboard the Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship. Visitors to the Museum Ship are being challenged to sink a hole-in-one to take home a special prize.

“Spanning nearly 30 ft. across the museum ship’s deck and overlooking the ‘Mighty Maumee’ and Downtown Toledo, the ‘Freighter Golf’ putt-putt green aims to challenge and provide fun for any age or skill level,” shares Ellen Kennedy, the museum’s Director of Education and Visitor Experience. “We hope to encourage golf enthusiasts to visit the east side of the river bank and look forward to being a part of the Solheim Cup’s excitement.” 

“Freighter Golf” putt-putt green will open for use Thursday, August 19, and remain available through Monday, September 6. Access to the green is included with Museum Ship admission and the putt-putt 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 more information, call 419-214-5000, visit our event page here.

Collaborative Exhibit and Day Long History Exploration Increases Access to Great Lakes History Education

August 11, 2021 (Toledo, Ohio) The National Museum of the Great Lakes (NMGL) and The Sandpiper passenger tour boat are collaborating to provide more opportunities to explore Great Lakes history both by land and water with a new “Ship & Shore package” and an onboard Port of Toledo: Then & Now exhibit.

On Saturday, August 28, and Saturday, September 11, the museum and passenger boat are teaming up to offer two days featuring an “Ultimate Great Lakes History Day”—a special combination ticket including full access to the National Museum of the Great Lakes and a trip along the Maumee River aboard The Sandpiper. In addition, the museum is installing a Port of Toledo online exhibit onboard The Sandpiper which uses QR codes to help cruisers visually compare and learn the history behind various spots along the river’s banks.

“The Ship & Shore experience provides a way to explore Great Lakes history all day long,” explains Ellen Kennedy, the museum’s Director of Education and Visitor Experience. “Guests receive full-day access to the National Museum of the Great Lakes—including our world-class, family-friendly exhibits, a 617-foot iron ore freighter, and a lake class tugboat—along with a mid-day trip aboard The Sandpiper departing and returning from the museum docks.”

In addition, NMGL has developed an ongoing way to interact with Great Lakes history along the Maumee River with a soon-to-be installed exhibit map onboard The Sandpiper. The magnetized map uses QR codes to guide Sandpiper Cruise guests through a historic exploration of various Port of Toledo images they may pass while onboard their tour.

“The collaboration with The Sandpiper and the installation of this “mini-exhibit” is such a great way for our museum to expand the reach of our Port of Toledo: Then and Now virtual exhibit,” says Kate Fineske, the museum’s Senior Director of Institutional Advancement. “It was a natural partnership between two entities deeply connected to the Maumee River, and a partnership we hope to continue and expand in the years to come.

Ship & Shore: The Ultimate Great Lakes History Day is offered two Saturdays this summer—August 28 and September 11. Tickets must be purchased in advance at nmgl.org or by calling 419-214-5000. For more information visit our event page here.

Museum to Install Temporary Exhibit Showcasing Legacy of Toledo-based Great Lakes Vessel Photographer

July 7, 2021 (Toledo, Ohio) On Friday, July 16 the National Museum of the Great Lakes will open their first in-house, temporary exhibit since the onset of the pandemic titled Jim Hoffman: The Photographic Life of Toledo’s Original Boatnerd. The exhibit features the work of Toledoan Jim Hoffman, who passed away on November 7, 2020. Considered a legend among fellow boatnerds, Jim’s photographs are instantly recognizable by most Great Lakes shipping photographers.

“Jim was a fixture on the Maumee River and was loved by boatnerds near and far,” says Paul LaMarre, III, Jim’s longtime friend who also serves on the Board of Directors at the National Museum of the Great Lakes and is the Director of the Port of Monroe in Michigan. “The National Museum of the Great Lakes is proud to be able to honor and recognize his legacy and life’s passion.”

Jim and his small boat were often the first thing greeting sailors on freighters entering Toledo. Through the years Jim’s photos have been featured and shared both in print and online. In 2020, Jim was honored as the Great Lakes Historian of the Year by the Marine Historical Society of Detroit, one of the few photographers ever chosen.

The exhibit, installed in remembrance of his legacy and love for Great Lakes vessels, will give guests the opportunity to walk alongside his life’s passion and live his photographic memories. It will be available for viewing through Labor Day. Admission is free for members and included with museum admission for non-members. Visitors will also receive a complimentary print from his photographic collection. For more information visit our event page here.

History Happy Hour Premieres at the National Museum of the Great Lakes

June 3, 2021 (Toledo, Ohio) – On Thursday, July 1 from 5 – 7:30 p.m. the National Museum of the Great Lakes will host “History Happy Hour: Sailor Stories.” The event allows guests to enjoy happy hour drinks while exploring the Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship to learn more about its history—from early years on the lakes to the current restoration efforts. 

“Our History Happy Hour series is meant to mix maritime history with everyday fun by providing a unique interactive experience,” says Kate Fineske, the museum’s Senior Director of Institutional Advancement. “Guests will tour the 617-foot lake freighter and visit multiple docent-led history stations while mixing and mingling with friends and taking in breathtaking views of beautiful downtown Toledo and the Maumee River.” 

History Happy Hour: Sailor Stories is the first in what the museum hopes will be a series of events offering themed, after-hour access to the museum and its various exhibits. The event costs $25 for members or $30 for non-members and includes two drinks, snacks, and after-hour touring of the Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship with interactive story-telling.

For more information, to register and/or purchase a book click here.

ST. MARYS CHALLENGER featured in Last Spring Virtual Lecture and Coming Soon to Museum’s Grounds as Newest Artifact

April 22, 2021 (Toledo, Ohio)On May 12 at 7 p.m., Great Lakes vessel historian and photographer Chris Winters will present St. Marys Challenger: Centennial the Sequel as the final virtual lecture of the National Museum of the Great Lakes’ spring series. Thought to be the oldest self-propelled bulk freighter in the world, the Challenger began her remarkable freshwater career on the Great Lakes in 1906 as the William P. Snyder—a sister ship of NMGL’s Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship. 

“I spent five years creating a record of life aboard the St. Marys Challenger,” recalls Chris Winters of the creation of his 2008 book Centennial: Steaming through the American Century. “But the vessel’s life and my connection with it didn’t stop with the book’s publication.” 

Winters continues to follow the former William P. Snyder’s remarkable career, recording her last voyage under steam in 2013, her subsequent conversion to a self-unloading cement barge, and transportation of the vessel’s historic pilothouse structure to Toledo. In his presentation for the National Museum of the Great Lakes, he will share his experiences—old and new—along with highlighting past and present-day images capturing the vessel’s extraordinary life. 

“Soon, the historic vessel’s pilothouse will join the museum grounds as our newest artifact,” says NMGL executive director Chris Gillcrist. “This exciting exhibit addition is ultimately meant to provide visitors with year-round, increased access to a pilothouse experience.” 

Following Winters’ presentation, NMGL’s Executive Director, Christopher Gillcrist, will outline the ongoing plans for the placement and display of the St. Marys Challenger Pilot House as part of the permanent collection of the National Museum of the Great Lakes.

The virtual event is FREE but registration is required. Donations are encouraged and can be given upon registration. In addition, the book Centennial: Steaming through the American Century can be purchased when registering. For more information, to register and/or purchase a book click here.

Museum Lecture Takes a “Deeper Dive” to Explore Underwater History

March 2, 2021 (Toledo, Ohio)On Wednesday, March 17 at 7 p.m., the National Museum of the Great Lakes will plunge into the early years of diving with a virtual lecture titled The Heroic Age of Diving featuring Jerry Kuntz. In the 1840s and 50s, Lake Erie became the proving ground for the infancy of the underwater breathing apparatus. The salvage of three infamous passenger steamer wrecks, the Erie, the G. P. Griffth, and the Atlantic, became an incentive for divers and engineers to test the limits of these new devices.

The museum is hosting the lecture to take a deeper dive into the history of underwater exploration. “Today, much of our ability to research and record shipwrecks is because of the work of these early pioneers,” says National Museum of the Great Lakes’ Archaeological Director Carrie Sowden. 

Based on research from his same-titled book, Mr. Kuntz’s lecture will share history through the lens of individuals like John Green—a man who kept secret the story of his own tragic shipwreck. Having received his Masters of Library and Information Science from Rutgers University, Mr. Kuntz is known for producing books that include exceptional, but little-known 19th Century Americans: wild west show sharpshooters, pioneer aviators, baseball league promoters, dance hall denizens, a teenage Amazon plant hunter, and early apparatus divers. He is currently researching the balloon-parachuting craze of the 1890s.  

The virtual event is FREE but registration is required. Donations are encouraged and can be given upon registration. In addition, the book The Heroic Age of Diving: America’s Underwater Pioneers and the Great Wrecks of Lake Erie can be purchased when registering. For more information, to register and/or purchase a book click here.

Women’s History Month Begins Early with Museum Lecture Featuring Heroic Women in the U.S. Lighthouse Service

February 9, 2021 (Toledo, Ohio) – More than 50 women defied the gender expectations of their time to serve the sailing communities on Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior, as well as on the Detroit River, during the active lighthouse-keeping era. On Wednesday, February 24, at 7 p.m., the National Museum of the Great Lakes will feature the stories of these heroic females during their second virtual lecture of the spring series: Ladies of the Lights: Michigan Women in the U.S. Lighthouse Service. 

“It’s a great topic to lead us into March, which is also Women’s History month,” shares Ellen Kennedy, the National Museum of the Great Lakes’ Education and Visitor Experience Director. “Lighthouse keeping was demanding and physical work and it was crucial to the safety of Great Lakes sailors. The women who stepped into these roles are truly inspiring.” 

The lecture presenter, Patricia Majher, is a former editor of Michigan History magazine and a museum professional who has held administrative positions at institutions including The Henry Ford and Mackinac State Historic Parks. In addition to her same-titled book Ladies of the Lights, she has published Great Girls in Michigan History and Bold Boys in Michigan History with Wayne State University Press.

The virtual event is FREE but registration is required. Donations are encouraged and can be given upon registration. In addition, the book Ladies of the Lights: Michigan Women in the U.S. Lighthouse Service can be purchased when registering. For more information, to register and/or to purchase a book click here.