An Artist at the Water's Edge a Century of Maritime art from Alexander Burns Cook

Explore a Century of Marine Art by Alexander Burns Cook

The National Museum of the Great Lakes is proud to announce the opening of “An Artist at the Water’s Edge: A Century of Marine Art by Alexander Burns Cook.” The traveling exhibit celebrates the life and work of Cook, a noted Great Lakes Marine artist, WWII veteran, board member, and philanthropist of the Great Lakes Historical Society. 

The exhibit opens at The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in St. Joseph, Michigan on Saturday, June 1 in honor of what would have been Cook’s 100th birthday this past April 16th.  The public and media are invited to an opening reception on Friday, May 31 at The Heritage Museum and Culture Center from 6:30 – 8:30 pm.  Cook lived in St. Joseph from age 7 to 25 and considered the community to be his first home.

Cook, who spent nearly a century living by the water’s edge, began his artistic journey almost 90 years ago. His deep connection to the water is evident in his artwork, influenced by his childhood investigating tugboats along the St. Joseph River, sailing across Lake Michigan with his father, and later observing commercial freighters in Cleveland, Ohio while employed as a cartoonist at the local newspaper. Even as a volunteer curator at the Great Lakes Historical Society, Cook’s fascination with water remained a significant influence in his life and work.

Visitors will have the opportunity to explore Cook’s century-long life and his profound connection to the waterside through his remarkable artwork. The exhibit showcases a diverse collection of Cook’s pieces, from cartoons to murals, capturing the essence of the Great Lakes and the maritime life that has inspired him throughout his life.

“We are thrilled to share Alexander Burns Cook’s extraordinary legacy with the public,” said Chris Gillcrist, Director Emeritus at the National Museum of the Great Lakes. “This exhibit not only honors his artistic achievements but also highlights his lifelong dedication to preserving and celebrating the maritime heritage of the Great Lakes.”

The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center is free to the public and open Thursdays and Fridays from 2 to 7 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, and Sunday from 12 to 5 pm. If you have questions about the exhibit, please contact Gillcrist at or 216-956-9734.