Museum History

In 1962 seven residents of Bath, Maine formed the Marine Research Society of Bath, which did business for years as the Bath Marine Museum. In 1975, the name was changed to Maine Maritime Museum.

1894 to 1920 – the Percy & Small (P&S) Shipyard built 45 vessels, of which 42 were four, five or six mast schooners, including Wyoming, the largest wooden schooner ever built, the largest wooden sailing vessel built in the United States. Their first three vessels were built in a leased shipyard, property now part of Bath Iron Works. In 1896 Percy & Small purchased their own shipyard (the old Daniel Orrin Blaisdell yard), property that is now part of Maine Maritime Museum, and began building there the following year.

1975 – the P&S Shipyard was donated by Mr. and Mrs. L. M. C. Smith. In 1981 Mrs. Smith also donated the adjoining Donnell House, a shipyard owner’s Victorian-era residence. The P&S Shipyard is the only intact shipyard site in the United States that built large wooden sailing vessels.

1985 – the museum added an additional building on the shipyard campus to house its lobstering exhibit; this exhibit was completely redesigned and reinstalled in 2015 to become the new interactive Lobstering & the Maine Coast exhibit. Also in 1985, a long-standing relationship with the Grand Banks Schooner Trust was launched, allowing the schooner Sherman Zwicker to be a floating waterfront exhibit at the museum during each summer season until 2014, when the Grand Banks Schooner Museum sold her to restauranteurs in New York City for service as an oyster bar.

1989 – the museum built its three-story climate-controlled Maritime History Building, adjacent to and just south of the Percy & Small Shipyard, allowing all of its changing exhibits, collections storage, research library, gift shop, admissions desk and administrative functions to be in one major location.

1994 – the museum rebuilt the Deering Pier which allows us to provide dockage to larger visiting commercial and private vessels.

1995 – the remains of the clipper ship Snow Squall arrived at the museum,  housed in its own building near Deering Pier.

2001 – the museum built an addition to the Maritime History Building, a special event facility called Long Reach Hall. This beautiful timber frame building is equipped with a full caterer’s kitchen. The following year the Visiting Yachtsmen’s Building was added to provide amenities for visitors arriving by boat. Ten guest moorings are available in season.

2005 – the museum opened the William T. Donnell house to the public, periods rooms on the first floor showing the house as it looked in 1892.

2006 – the evocation of the bow and stern of Wyoming, the largest wooden sailing vessel built in the U.S., was erected where the original vessel was constructed and launched in 1909. At more than 400′ from jib-boom tip to stern plate, they constitute the largest outdoor public work of art in New England.

2010 -the museum completed an acquisition of the Portland Harbor Museum (PHM), a smaller maritime museum located in Portland, acquiring the PHM collections and membership base and enabling expansion into the Portland area.

2012 – the museum celebrates its 50th anniversary with a major exhibit and catalog of historical collections.

2013 –  the addition of the six metal masts of the Wyoming evocation were completed. The sculpture is 444’ long and the largest in New England. Maine Maritime Museum is named one of the top maritime museums in the world by Maritime Insights, a maritime industry publication.

2014 – in 2014 as a result of a generous bequest,the Kenneth D. Kramer Blacksmith Shop exhibit was constructed on the site of the original Percy & Small blacksmith shop, which was destroyed by fire in 1913. The museum is again named one of the world’s top maritime museums by Destinations Travel magazine.

2015 – after 30 years since its original installation, the museum completely redesigned and expanded the content of its Lobstering & the Maine Coast exhibit to tell the full “trap to table” story of the Maine lobster industry.

In late 2015, six high-intensity focused-beam lights were installed at the base of each mast of the Wyoming evocation, for evening lighting of the masts.

2016 – thanks to a grant from the Merrymeeting Bay Trust, the museum purchased the cruise vessel Pied Piper, renaming it Merrymeeting in honor of the region’s ecological wonder, Merrymeeting Bay.

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