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March 7, 2019

Maine Maritime Museum launches $3.3M ‘first impressions’ upgrade

Courtesy / Maine Maritime Museum From left, Facilities Manager Tony Croteau, Director of Public Programs and Operations Jason Morin and Executive Director Amy Lent review plans for the 5-acre renovation of the Maine Maritime Museum's campus in Bath.
Courtesy / Maine Maritime Museum A site plan for the 5-acre “First Impressions” project at Maine Maritime Museum.

Maine Maritime Museum broke ground this week on what it says will be a “transformative” $3.3 million renovation of its Bath grounds.

The “First Impressions” project will include a redevelopment of the front entrance and south side of the museum’s campus. The goal is to improve the visitor experience while “creating an ecologically friendly and attractive landscape bordering the river and Washington Street,” the museum announced Wednesday. The project will also improve handicapped accessibility.

Changes will include a redesign of the parking areas, including raising the level of the Washington Street parking lot to the level of the main entrance. The museum’s so-called south campus, which covers five acres, will have new landscaping with native plantings and “expansive green space” along the Kennebec River.

Features of the landscape plan include groves of native Maine tree species that were used in traditional shipbuilding, a waterfront boardwalk with views of the coastal wetlands and a garden honoring Navy families adjacent to the Bath Iron Works exhibit. The park-like south campus will be open to the public.

“Maine’s maritime heritage is critically important to the state culturally and economically, and deserves the best representation we can provide,” said Amy Lent, the Maine Maritime Museum’s executive director. “This project will have a lasting impact on thousands of visitors and locals for years to come. The new landscape and arrival experience will beautify the south end of Washington Street, celebrate our unique connection to the Kennebec River, and will be accessible to everyone. Finally, the exterior appearance of the museum will reflect the world-class experience found inside.”

The First Impressions project is the most recent in a series of ambitious improvements that the museum has completed in the past decade. Some of the projects include 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). The museum was named one of the Top 10 maritime museums in the world by Marine Insight and the “best museum in Maine” by USA Today.

Richardson & Associates, a Saco landscape architecture firm, created the design. Crooker Construction of Topsham will manage the project, working with Pine Tree Engineering.

The project should be completed by spring 2020, in time for the Maine bicentennial celebration. 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.

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