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Grant helps to build Maritime Museum Lighthouse Tower exhibit

A $100,000 grant from the David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund within the Community Foundation will soon result in a new exhibit to help visitors understand and appreciate our Wisconsin maritime heritage.


By Kevin Osgood, Executive Director, Door County Maritime Museum & Preservation Society

The Door County Maritime Museum is expanding our Sturgeon Bay facility with a landmark 10-story Maritime Lighthouse Tower.
The new facility will offer:

  • Ten floors of interactive educational exhibits that highlight maritime history, people and industries;
  • Accessibility to a lighthouse experience that will accommodate everyone regardless of physical abilities;
  • A must-see maritime experience that will draw visitors to our area from across the country;
  • An intriguing destination that will create a significant economic boost to the region;
  • Hands-on educational experiences that will teach young and old, keep maritime history alive and promote interest in maritime-related local career opportunities.

We are honored and humbled to be the recipient of a $100,000 contribution to the Maritime Lighthouse Tower exhibits from the David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region. We thank them for their support towards the exhibits on the 7th floor of the Tower:

7th Floor – Maritime Navigation. From dugout canoes to modern 1,000-foot freighters, navigating the local waters has always been challenging. How different generations found their way on the water, including an interactive chart table, explanation of range lights and lighthouses, sextants and more.

The Museum is an anchor institution on the Sturgeon Bay West waterfront and it is believed that completion of the Maritime Lighthouse Tower, accelerated by the gift from the Nelson Family Fund, will reignite the development process for the remaining parcels in the redevelopment area. One of the ultimate intentions of the project is to contribute to Door County’s economy by creating a new year-round tourist destination that will offer a panoramic vista of Sturgeon Bay’s working waterfront from the enclosed 10th floor observation deck or the outdoor rooftop deck.

When completed, the new Maritime Lighthouse Tower will enable Door County Maritime Museum to better and more effectively share the important maritime culture and heritage of our community with a wider audience, making our unique part of American history come alive for visitors. Each exhibit will have a lasting impact. The new Lighthouse Tower will light the way for countless young people who will find inspiration to pursue careers in engineering, environmental sciences, and maritime technologies – all careers vital to Door County and throughout Wisconsin and the Great Lakes. By increasing tourism, it will also become a significant economic stimulus that will generate more revenue and success for businesses.


Who were the Nelsons? Learn more about the David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund and find out more about this couple here.

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