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Museum Temporary Exhibit Will Showcase America’s Only Floating Post Office and Other Great Lakes Service Vessels

June 27, 2022 (Toledo, Ohio) – On Thursday, June 30, the National Museum of the Great Lakes welcomes a new temporary exhibit titled “By the Pail: J.W. Westcott and Great Lakes Service Vessels.” The exhibit takes an indepth look at the J.W. Westcott Co. and other vessels that serviced the sailors of the Great Lakes through the years including bumboats, grocery providers, and a butcher boat.

“Most people don’t know the Detroit River is home to America’s only floating post office, which was the inspiration for the exhibit’s name,” shares lead curator Carrie Sowden. “In the early days, a rope would be tossed to a waiting rowboat by a passing ship. While being towed along the ship’s side, service boats would load correspondence and supplies into a bucket lowered by the ship’s crew. Long coined “mail-by-the-pail,” the system remains little changed today.” 

Life aboard a Great Lakes vessel can be isolating and lonely. A note or package from a loved one or access to personal items and food were real morale boosters. In 1948 the J.W. Westcott Co. began delivering mail to sailors passing by on vessels as an official postal service which still operates today under the zip code 48222. “By the Pail” uses images, video and artifacts to take a deeper look at service vessels including the J.W. Westcott II and the important role they played through the years.

Exhibit admission is FREE for members and included with any museum admission purchase. The temporary exhibit will be open during regular museum hours through August 14. Individuals can purchase same-day tickets at the door or online in advance. For additional information visit nmgl.org/events or call 419-214-5000.

Great Lakes Fest Banner for Release

New ‘Great Lakes Fest’ Features Day-long Celebration, Registration for Antique Boats and Marine Vendors Open

Thursday, June 16, 2022 (Toledo, Ohio) – The National Museum of the Great Lakes, in  partnership with Ramsey Brothers Restorations, is planning a day-long celebration of Great Lakes History on Saturday, August 6 with the introduction of Great Lakes Fest. The new event, which the museum intends to host annually, will feature antique boats, classic cars, water and boating demonstrations, a marine mart, food trucks and kids activities.

“We wanted to celebrate Great Lakes history in a way that all ages and all interest levels could connect with,” shares the museum’s executive director Chris Gillcrist. “In addition to all of the normal activities the museum and our vessels have to offer, over the course of the day visitors can do anything from explore a selection of classic and antique boats and cars, to shop at our Marine Mart for nautical items to take home.”

The National Museum of the Great Lakes is working with Ramsey Brothers Restorations to collect a curated selection of historical vessels to showcase as well as selecting a sampling of antique Jeeps and automobiles to help connect the dots between Great Lakes history across the region and locally. Families, boatnerds, history lovers and more can come down, grab a bite to eat from a local food truck, take a scavenger hunt onboard the museum vessels, or cool down with a drink in their hand while visiting the sites on the museum grounds. 

Admission to Great Lakes Fest is free to NMGL Members and children under 5. Non-member admission is included with the price of a Museum Combo pass. For a growing list of participating boats and vendors as well as a schedule of events, or to express interest in joining the antique boat show or marine mart, visit nmgl.org/great-lakes-fest. For additional information, call 419-214-5000.

Capt. Scupper Songfest

Museum Explores Early Reading Skills in Maritime-Themed Music Class

Thursday, June 2, 2022 (Toledo, Ohio) On Monday, June 20 at 10:30 a.m. the National Museum of the Great Lakes will introduce Capt. Scupper’s Songfest: Maritime Music and Movement. The new, small group activity presented by Sing into Reading was developed especially with children ages 0-6 in mind. During the class, little ones will spend 30 minutes exploring maritime themes through music and movement with a parent or caregiver followed by open play in the Museum’s “Port of Play” and exploration of the museum.

“This fun activity targets our youngest maritime enthusiasts to give them a chance to build a love of reading through music incorporating a Great Lakes twist,” explains Ellen Kennedy, who oversees the museum’s youth education initiatives. “We are excited to team up with Sing in to Reading to connect age-appropriate learning activities like this to children and their caregivers.”

The class’s instructor, Risa Beth Cohen is the Founder and Creative Director of Sing into Reading. She has been teaching Music and Movement to children since 1994 and holds an M.S.Ed. in Early Childhood/Elementary Education from Bank Street College. After discovering music and movement to be what she refers to as the “secret ingredient” to encouraging literacy, Risa taught Music/Literacy in NYC public schools. Then, when she moved to Toledo, spent 10 years as the Music/Literacy Co-Curricular for 3 – 6 year-olds at West Side Montessori.

Each Capt. Scupper’s Songfest class is limited to 20 kids and their grownups and is designed for ages birth to 6. Additional classes will be offered the third Monday of each month on July 18, August 22, and September 19. Registration is $5 per class for NMGL member children and $15 per class for non-member children (non-member price includes museum-only admission for one adult and child). Capacity is limited, so advance registration is encouraged. For additional information, call 419-214-5000 or visit our event pages below.


June 20 Songfest    July 18 Songfest     August 22 Songfest     September 19 Songfest

Hard Hat Tour Offers Exclusive Access to Museum Space

Thursday, June 2, 2022 (Toledo, Ohio) On Saturday, June 18 the National Museum of the Great Lakes (NMGL) will offer the first of three summer Hard Hat Tours. Participants will set foot in spaces typically off-limits to visitors during an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of the Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship, the Museum Tug Ohio and the St. Marys Challenger Pilothouse—the newest artifact to join the museum grounds and still undergoing restoration efforts.

“During this 2-hour experience, guests will have the opportunity to take a deeper dive into the ships’ inner workings and visit “hard-hat” only locations like the Museum Ships’ Owners Galley, the lowest points of the boat, as well as a look in the vessels stern from Cargo Hold #1,” reports Christ Gillcrist, the Museum’s Executive Director. “From glimpses into our newest artifact’s restoration, to the Colonel’s original boiler bricks—you’ll see it all from an insider’s view.”

Tours are $35 for NMGL members and $50 for non-members. Each small group behind-the-scenes experience will last approximately 2 hours with tours beginning at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Space is limited to 8 individuals per small group, so advance registration is encouraged. Due to the limited capacity, additional Hard Hat Tours are also scheduled to take place this summer on Saturday, July 16 and Saturday, August 20. For additional information, call 419-214-5000 or visit our event pages below.



2022 HHH Sailor Songs - Web

Museum History Happy Hour Features Great Lakes Singer History on Land and Water

**WEATHER NOTE: Due to unexpected summer heat, History Happy Hour is now taking place within the museum interior. Guests will have after-hour museum access to roam and explore our 11,000 square feet of interior exhibits.**

May 24, 2022 (Toledo, Ohio) On Thursday, June 16 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m, the National Museum of the Great Lakes (NMGL) is partnering with North Cape Yacht Club to host their next History Happy Hour—Sailor Songs. The event will take place in front of the historic Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship and features singer, songwriter, and musician Lee Murdock, whose incredible talent works to celebrate the people who live, work, and play on the Great Lakes.

“Finding unique ways to bring Great Lakes history into people’s lives is why we created History Happy Hour, ” shares Kate Fineske, the museum’s Senior Director of Institutional Advancement. “Lee Murdock’s music combines ragtime, Irish, blues and folk styles with Great Lakes storytelling and brings together original compositions with music grounded in the sea shanty tradition. To bring in someone with this caliber of talent, finding the right partner was imperative. With North Cape’s membership and past support of our mission, we knew they were the perfect choice!” 

North Cape Yacht Club is a private sailing club located on the shores of Lake Erie next to Toledo Beach in LaSalle, Michigan. They focus on the cultivation of racing and cruising sailboats. Lee Murdock is noted as a fluent instrumentalist on six and twelve string guitars. His musical influences span fifteen generations, and combine original compositions with traditional music.

Participants are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and/or blankets to enjoy the sights and sounds. Tickets are $30 for NMGL and North Cape Yatch Club members, and $35 for non-members and include light snacks, specialty drinks created by Toledo Spirits, beer, wine and soft drinks. For more information, call 419-214-5000, visit our event page here.

Ship & Shore Banner

Summer Ship & Shore Days Allow Museum Visitors to Explore Great Lakes

Wednesday, May 18, 2022 (Toledo, Ohio) – The National Museum of the Great Lakes (NMGL) and The Sandpiper passenger tour boat are teaming up again this summer to offer the “Ultimate Great Lakes History Day.” One Saturday a month, a special ticket will be available combining full access to the National Museum of the Great Lakes and a trip along the Maumee River aboard The Sandpiper

“The Ship & Shore experience provides a way to explore Great Lakes history all day long,” says Kate Fineske, the museum’s spokesperson. “Guests receive full-day access to the National Museum of the Great Lakes including our museum’s 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.” 

While touring the Maumee River aboard The Sandpiper, visitors will have access to the award-winning Port of Toledo: Then and Now exhibit. This exhibit uses QR codes onboard the vessel to allow cruisers to interact with Great Lakes history along the Maumee River. The codes provide additional images and information about the rich history behind various spots along the river’s banks—giving visitors the opportunity to visually compare and contrast the old Maumee River with the new.

“Ship & Shore: The Ultimate Great Lakes History Day” is offered three Saturdays this summer—June 11, July 9 and August 13. Tickets must be purchased in advance at nmgl.org or by calling 419-214-5000. For additional information please visit nmgl.org/event.

Museum Boats Open

Museum’s Boats Reopen for Season and a Call for Museum Volunteers!

April 19, 2022 (Toledo, Ohio) – The National Museum of the Great Lakes will reopen the Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship and Museum Tug Ohio to the public beginning May 1 and are seeking individuals interested in volunteering. In addition, the museum’s open hours will increase from 6 to 7 days a week, Monday thru Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

“As the summer season nears, volunteers become the lifeblood of our museum—serving as greeters, helping with our museum vessel and ground maintenance, and so much more,” reports Rebecca Gray, who oversees the museum’s volunteer initiative. “Volunteers could be students in need of interesting work to complete required high school volunteer hours, adults with an interest in restoration efforts, or simply individuals who just want to spend time onboard our vessels or at the museum!”

The museum ships close annually over the winter months and re-open for public tours between May 1 and October 31. Visitors can climb onboard the 617-foot cargo ship and historic tug to experience what life was like on the lakes in the early 1900s while also visiting the museum galleries. The inside of the museum features awe-inspiring stories of our Great Lakes through breathtaking photography, over 300 incredible artifacts, a number of powerful audiovisual displays and 40 hands-on interactive exhibits.

To learn more about volunteering or to sign-up to volunteer visit: nmgl.org/volunteer. To pre-purchase tickets for a museum visit, go to nmglstore.org.

Museum Main Entrance Closed for Construction

Museum’s Front Street Entrance Closed for Construction As Glass City Metropark Continues to Take Shape.

The Front St. entrance to the National Museum of the Great Lakes is closed for construction as Glass City Metropark works to improve the vehicle entrance and accessibility to both the museum and new park grounds. Visitors should use the temporary entrance on Front Street, located east of the main entrance and across from Tribute Park. The closure will begin on Monday April 11 and conclude by Friday, April 22.  The main signage on Front Street will be down for the duration of the construction, however the museum’s 11,000 square foot inside exhibit space will remain open. Visitors should expect to be directed to the museum’s parking lot with the use of temporary signage.


For more information and status updates, please visit nmgl.org, call the museum front desk at 419-214-5000, or visit @NMGLToledo on social media.

Museum and Sandpiper Tour Boat Partnership Wins Top State Award

Tuesday, April 5, 2022 (Toledo, Ohio) – The National Museum of the Great Lakes (NMGL) has been awarded the Ohio Museum Association Award for Best Community Partnership in the Over $500,000 budget category for their Port of Toledo: Then & Now — Interactive Sandpiper Tour Boat Exhibit. The award was announced and presented to museum representatives during an evening ceremony at the Cincinnati Art Museum on Sunday, April 3. 

“In August of 2021, the National Museum of the Great Lakes installed our first traveling exhibit aboard a vessel—The Sandpiper tour boat operating on the Maumee River in Toledo,” explains Kate Fineske, who oversees the museum’s community partnerships. “We are always looking for innovative ways to introduce people to Great Lakes History through mission-focused collaborations that also provide value-added benefits for other businesses.”

NMGL staff worked with tour operators to coordinate an exhibit to tell the story of the Port of Toledo’s history in a way Sandpiper guests could independently interact with—in this case, utilizing QR codes and a large-scale map. The partnership also designated two days in 2021 to specifically target a dual experience by introducing “Ship & Shore: The Ultimate Great Lakes History Day”. During these dedicated “Ship & Shore” days, guests could explore Great Lakes history at the National Museum of the Great Lakes and experience the history of the Port of Toledo from the water aboard the Sandpiper.

“As we look toward the 2022 season, we are excited to continue this partnership as well as find other ways to collaborate and support each other,” shares Paul Lis, owner of J&M Cruise Lines. “The one-of-a-kind exhibit will continue to be available for guests onboard The Sandpiper this summer along with the addition of more Ship & Shore days.” 

The museum has already added three dates for the 2022 Ship & Shore days in June, July and August. The Sandpiper offers a number of relaxing and fun cruises on the Maumee River in downtown Toledo and individuals can explore NMGL’s interactive exhibit onboard once it begins public seasonal operations this May. For more information and to book a tour on The Sandpiper visit J&M Cruises online here. For more information and to book a Ship & Shore excursion, visit our NMGL’s events page online or call 419-214-5000. 

The Ohio Museums Association Annual Awards Program proudly honors outstanding achievement and visual communication. Nominations and entries from the field are considered by a distinguished panel of judges, selected to represent the diversity of the museum community. The Best Community Collaboration/Partnership Award recognizes innovative partnerships within communities or among other museums.

Lecture Banner

Museum’s Last Spring Lecture Highlights History of Army Corp of Engineers

March 24, 2022 (Toledo, Ohio) On Wednesday, April 6, at 7 p.m. the National Museum of the Great Lakes will hold their final presentation of the 2022 Spring Lecture Series covering the history of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Great Lakes. Presented by Ashley Binion-Zuccaro, Toledo Program Manager of the Buffalo District, this hybrid lecture will discuss the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ deep-rooted history on and around the Great Lakes.

“From the Soo Locks and military construction, to dredging and surveying—the Army Corp of Engineers Ohio River Division currently serves 56 million people,” says Carrie Sowden, the museum’s Archaeological and Research Director who also oversees its lecture series. “The Great Lakes division of the Army Corp of Engineers touches parts of 17 states making it a natural fit for our museum to highlight as a part of our Spring Lecture Series.”  

Ashley Binion-Zuccaro, the event’s presenter, is responsible for the overall management of projects throughout Northwest Ohio. She holds a master’s degree in Economics from Wayne State University and a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Prior to joining the Buffalo District, she worked for the USACE’s Detroit District as an Economist and Project Manager.

The lecture, as in previous presentations, will be offered as a hybrid event at the museum or online. Event registration is free, but required for all lectures. Donations are encouraged and can be given upon registration. For more information or to register, visit nmgl.org.

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