Maine Maritime Museum has successfully raised $3.37 million in support of the transformative five-acre renovation currently underway on the museum’s campus, exceeding the fundraising goal by nearly $35,000. The “First Impressions” project encompasses a complete redevelopment of the front entrance and south side of the museum’s campus to enhance the visitor experience, create an ecologically friendly and attractive landscape, and improve handicapped accessibility.
The project is the capstone to a seven-year effort to significantly upgrade and improve the museum’s exhibits and historic shipyard. Beginning with the museum’s 50th anniversary in 2012 when the six masts of Wyoming were raised, the museum has added one or more major new buildings, exhibits, or programs annually; most recently acquiring and restoring the historic schooner, Mary E. “Maine Maritime Museum has repeatedly been recognized as one of the best museums in Maine, and among the top maritime museums in the country because of the unique historic shipyard and compelling exhibits that celebrate the coastal Maine experience. The First Impressions project ensures the excellent visitor experience will start as soon as they enter the parking lot,” explains Executive Director Amy Lent.
Phase 1 of the roughly year-long project began in March and is anticipated to be completed by mid-July. The main parking lot of the museum was filled to become nearly level with the main entrance—eliminating the need for front steps—and reconfigured to provide ample handicapped parking. A new concrete arrival plaza at the main entrance includes an inlaid map of the Kennebec River. From Moosehead Lake to the mouth of the river at Popham, visitors can walk along the river’s path and trace the history of this remarkable body of water. Commercial landscape architects Richardson & Associates of Saco created the design; Crooker Construction of Topsham is managing the project.
In addition to redesigned parking areas, the south campus of the museum will be transformed into a landscape that blends with the natural surroundings and utilizes interactive elements to provide an appreciation of the history and ecology of the Kennebec River. Unique features of the landscape plan include groves of native tree species that were used in traditional shipbuilding, a beautiful boardwalk along the riverbank providing views of the coastal wetlands, and a special garden honoring Navy families adjacent to the exhibit, BIW: Building America’s Navy. New native Maine plantings will include more than 70 trees, 2,000 shrubs, and 1,500 perennials and grasses. The park-like south campus will be open to the public and free to enjoy.
The project will be substantially completed by this fall; with the final paving coat applied next spring so the museum’s new look will be ready in time for the Maine Bicentennial. A special event will celebrate the newly renovated campus in spring 2020.
“Maine’s maritime heritage is critically important to the state culturally and economically, and deserves the best representation we can provide,” said Executive Director Amy Lent. “This project will have a lasting impact on thousands of visitors and locals for years to come. The new landscape and arrival experience will beautify the south end of Washington Street, celebrate our unique connection to the Kennebec River, and will be accessible to everyone. Finally, the exterior appearance of the museum will reflect the world-class experience found inside.”
Donations to the project are still being accepted to grow the reserve fund that will ensure long-term maintenance of the landscape, and some naming opportunities are still available.
About Maine Maritime Museum
Maine Maritime Museum (Bath, Maine) is an independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to promoting an understanding and appreciation of Maine’s maritime heritage. Visit www.MaineMaritimeMuseum.org for more information.