Maine has long been important to the nation’s maritime history, and today more can be learned at the Maine Maritime Museum.
The United States has a rich maritime history from its beginnings to the present day (learn about America’s early naval history by touring the USS Constitution, the nation’s most historic naval vessel). Today, the United States is by far the world’s leading naval power, and Maine has played an important role in achieving that goal. The Maine Maritime Museum is a great place to learn about Maine’s maritime history.
In all (coastal) parts of the country, one can visit some of the most historic and iconic US Navy ships, including aircraft carriers and battleships. Maine is more than Acadia National Park and lobsters; it is a state with one of the most important contributions to America’s long naval and maritime industry and traditions.
The Maine Maritime Museum – Explore Maine’s rich maritime history
The museum was founded in 1962 and merged in 2010 with the Portland Harbor Museum. Today, it has more than 20,000 artifacts and millions of documents and manuscripts relating to Maine’s maritime heritage. It traces Maine’s maritime history from prehistoric times to the present day.
It has grown into a large museum and now spans a beautiful 20-acre campus.
The Maine Maritime Museum was formerly called the Bath Marine Museum and features a large and diverse collection that details Maine’s regional and global role in maritime activities. The museum’s collection consists of artifacts, works of art, documents, shipyards, ships, replicas and much more.
- Bath: Known as the city of ships
The very location of the Maine Maritime Museum is significant. Bath is known as “the city of ships”. It is also located on the waterfront of the Kennebec River and includes historic Percy and the small shipyard.
Maine Maritime Museum Exhibits, Exhibits and Activities
One of the most eye-catching features is the life-size depiction of the largest wooden sailing ship ever built. It is that of the six-masted schooner Wyoming and it is the largest sculpture in New England.
The Percy and Small Dockyard includes five original 19th century buildings and the Victorian Dockyard owner’s house. It is the only surviving shipyard in the United States where you can see where tall wooden sailing ships were built. The museum not only showcases ships and shipbuilding, but also offers insight into the daily lives of sailors and shipbuilders.
Some of the permanent exhibits include:
- Snow squall: Launched in Portland in 1851 is the last remaining American Clipper ship
- Donnell House: Victorian-era home open seasonally for tours, showcases an 1892 dockyard owner’s home
- A maritime history of Maine: Exhibition of more than 240 objects illustrating the maritime history of Marine
- Percy and small shipyard: The only surviving US shipyard site
- BIW: Building the US Navy: See how the US Navy is built today
- Collection of historic ships: See over 140 historic small craft
- The Apprentishop at 40: See how wooden boats are built
- A key experience: See a full-scale replica of the Lantern Room of the two-light Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse Tower
- Wyoming: The largest wooden sailboat built in the United States (it is a sculpture of it)
The museum is more than exhibits; they also offer daily cruises to see some of Maine’s maritime attractions from the sea. See Maine’s iconic lighthouses as well as the navy ships currently under construction at Bath Iron Works.
- Boat ride: Take a boat ride and learn about navy ships under construction
And then there is the artisanal side of the museum. Visit the Boatshop and see how Maine’s wooden boat building traditions are preserved. Chat with artisan boat builders or take part in various traditional carpentry workshops.
Plan a visit to the Maine Maritime Museum
The Maine Maritime Museum is open daily (except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day).
- Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily
- Adults: $15.00
- Children: Free (under 18)
There is plenty of free parking near the museum – including space that can accommodate motorhomes and other larger vehicles.
If you get peckish during your visit, their Sail Shed by Long Reach Kitchen is also open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. Thursday through Sunday. The menus change and offer a selection of cooked dishes and sandwiches as well as hot and cold drinks.