First Impressions Project

Construction Update

March 11, 2019: The north (main) parking area of the museum will be CLOSED until further notice. Parking is available in the south (overflow) lot. The museum will remain open throughout the renovation.

First Impressions Project

Coming soon… a redesigned 5-acre space that will provide improved accessibility, river access, and opportunities for all to explore this unique environment.

In its ongoing effort to be one of the best maritime experiences in the world, Maine Maritime Museum will break ground on a transformative 5-acre renovation in March 2019. The “First Impressions” project encompasses a complete redevelopment of the front entrance and south side of the museum’s campus with a goal of enhancing the visitor experience, creating an ecologically friendly and attractive landscape bordering the river and Washington Street, and addressing a lack of handicapped accessibility, crumbling front steps, and deteriorating parking surfaces.

In addition to redesigned parking areas, the south campus of the museum (5 acres) will be transformed into a new landscape that blends seamlessly with the natural surroundings, incorporates native plantings and expansive greenspace, utilizes interactive elements to provide a deeper appreciation of the history and unique ecology of the Kennebec River, and is accessible to all. Unique features of the landscape plan include groves of native Maine 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 BIW: Building America’s Navy exhibit.

New plantings will include 73 native Maine trees, 2,078 native Maine shrubs, and 1,446 native Maine perennials and grasses. The park-like south campus will be open to the public.

Phase 1 of the roughly year-long project will commence in early March 2019 and focus on the front entrance of the museum. The north parking lot of the museum will be filled to become nearly level with the main entrance, eliminating the need for front steps. Approximately 9,000 yards of fill from the new Morse High School construction site will be reused in the process. A new concrete arrival plaza at the main entrance will include 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. Boulders will be placed strategically around the Moosehead end of the map, evoking the mountains in that region and serving as seating for visitors.

Assuming the balance of the funding is in place, the entire project will be completed by spring 2020 in time for the Maine Bicentennial celebration when Maine’s maritime heritage can be celebrated as it deserves to be. The museum will remain open throughout the renovation. To date, the museum has raised almost 90% of the project’s $3.3 million fundraising goal.

The “First Impressions” project is the most recent in a series of ambitious improvements that the museum has completed in the past decade. Installation of the six masts of the Wyoming evocation (2013); construction of the Kenneth D. Kramer Blacksmith Shop (2014); renovation of the state’s largest lobstering exhibit, Lobstering & the Maine Coast (2015); construction of the one-of-a-kind exhibit, Into the Lantern: A Lighthouse Experience (2017); acquisition and restoration of the 1906 schooner Mary E (2017-18); and the opening of the high-tech exhibit BIW: Building America’s Navy (2018); are some of the transformative projects that have earned the museum recognition as a world-class institution, being named one of the top 10 maritime museums in the world (Marine Insight) and the best museum in Maine (USA Today).

To learn more about how you can support this exciting project, contact Rebecca Roche, Manager of Development Operations, at or (207) 443-1316 x327.

First Impressions in the News

Times Record

The Forecaster

Construction Updates

March 11, 2019: Phase 1 of First Impressions is underway and will include demolition of the north (main) parking lot and front entrance steps. The parking lot will be filled to almost street level, eliminating the need for front steps. The north (main) parking lot will be closed until further notice. Ample parking is available in the south (overflow) lot. The museum will remain open throughout the renovation.

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