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 broke 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. The goal is to enhance the visitor experience by creating an eco-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 will be transformed into a new interpretive landscape that is open to the public. It will blend seamlessly with the natural surroundings, incorporate native plantings, and utilize interactive elements to provide a deeper appreciation of the history and ecology of the Kennebec River.
Unique features of the landscape design are the 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.
Started in March 2019, Phase 1 of the First Impressions project redesigns the front parking and arrival experience and is anticipated to be substantially complete by early July 2019. New features outside the museum’s entrance include the spectacular new Anderson Arrival Plaza featuring a map inlay of the Kennebec River from the Atlantic Ocean to Moosehead Lake; The Gray Family Blueberry Ledge; vastly improved handicapped accessibility; two Weiss Family groves of shipbuilder trees (larch and cedar); and a footbridge crossing a wetlands garden.
Phase 2 of the project will begin as soon as the front parking area is open and includes the south end of the museum’s campus, completing the 5-acre redevelopment. Crooker Construction Way will connect the main entry lot to the south end and will be anchored by the Navy Family Garden honoring Susan Konkel, adjacent to the BIW exhibit; a redesigned Kennebec River Great Lawn for special events; the Ecology Lawn adjacent to the Snow Squall Exhibit; and the Skip and Gerry Orem Riverwalk along the Kennebec River coastal wetlands terminating at the Parker Family Deering Pier. Shipbuilder tree groves extend into this area with the John and Betsey Morse White Pine Grove and the Ned and Kathy Harding Oak Grove. These spaces will create a park-like feeling in what was formerly a gravel overflow parking area and will be accessible to the public and open for the community to enjoy.
Additional improvements that integrate the rest of the site into the new design include the McEvoy Foundation Mould Loft Garden, the Kaltenborn Wyoming Garden, and numerous new benches, seating structures, signage, and amenities.
The plantings will be installed in July 2019 for Phase 1 and in the fall for Phase 2. The final paving coat will occur in spring of 2020 and the signage and seating in the south end will also be installed at the time. The full project will be completed in time for Maine’s Bicentennial so that the state’s shipbuilding heritage can be celebrated as it deserves to be! The museum will remain open throughout the renovation.
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 email@example.com or (207) 443-1316 x327.
September 17, 2019: The south (overflow) parking area of the museum will be CLOSED until further notice. Parking is available in the north (main) lot or on the street (west side of Washington St.). Marked handicapped parking is available closest to the building. Please be aware of landscaping work still happening on your way to the front door of the museum.The museum will remain open throughout the renovation.