Visitors explore everything from boatbuilding to shipwrecks and from maritime commerce to recreational boating — plus a lot more — at the Door County Maritime Museum in Door County, Wisconsin.

The Door County Maritime Museum & Lighthouse Preservation Society, Inc., preserves Great Lakes maritime history, primarily focusing on Door County, Wisconsin, and provides interpretive and educational opportunities for current and future generations.

With a tagline of “Where Great Lakes maritime history comes alive,” the museum operates three locations: the Door County Maritime Museum along the working waterfront in Sturgeon Bay; the iconic Cana Island Lighthouse in Baileys Harbor; and the Death’s Door Maritime Museum in Gills Rock.

This year the museum opened the new Jim Kress Maritime Lighthouse Tower on the Sturgeon Bay waterfront. Ten floors of interactive educational exhibits highlight maritime history, people and industries. The tower experience begins in the first-floor theater. Guests then take the elevator to the top (for an outstanding view of the waterfront) and then make their way down through each floor of exhibits.

Door County Maritime Museum
Tug John Purves
Credit: Door County Maritime Museum

“As one of northeast Wisconsin’s top tourism destinations, attracting more than 70,000 visitors annually, the Door County Maritime Museum serves as an educational resource for all 72 counties in Wisconsin,” said Sam Perlman, deputy director and development manager. “The museum location in Sturgeon Bay has been a perennial favorite for group tours, and the new Jim Kress Maritime Lighthouse Tower addition has been a big hit.”

Docent-guided group tours are available year-round of the museum in Sturgeon Bay. An operator can add a guided tour of the tugboat John Purves to a group’s museum experience from May to October. 

Death’s Door Maritime Museum in Gills Rock is open daily from May to mid-October, and guided tours are available.

The Cana Island Lighthouse Station in Baileys Harbor is open daily from May through October. Guided tours are not available at the lighthouse station.

Door County Maritime Museum
USCG 41410
Credit: Bill Pohlmann Fine Art Photography

At all of the museum locations, group tours need to be booked at least two weeks before the arrival date.

“We hope group tours leave the museum with a new appreciation for the maritime history of Door County and the global impact from this small community in northeast Wisconsin,” Perlman said.