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Dossin Great Lakes Museum, Detroit MI

On Monday, May 13, Detroit Metro Mashup had the privilege of attending the Media Preview for the Grand Re-Opening of the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle. The Detroit Historical Society recently completed a $2,000,000 renovation of the museum that upgraded the facilities and brought organization to their collections of maritime history, as well as establishing a number of new features to intrigue adults and children alike. We were hosted through portions of our visit by Bob Sadler, Director of Marketing and Sales for the Detroit Historical Society. This was fortunate for us because Bob was extremely knowledgeable about the exhibits and we were not!

As one approaches the museum, you can’t miss the Lake Erie cannons on display on the front lawn. Looking to the left, the famous Miss Pepsi racing boat fills a glassed-in exhibit. This was the first hydroplane to break 100 mph and was owned by the Dossin family.

One enters the museum into a fairly modern space, the Polk Family Hall, that immediately transitions into the incredible “Gothic Room.” The Gothic Room is simply awe-inspiring, with ornate wood, stained glass and chandeliers. This room was where gentlemen once gathered to drink brandy and smoke cigars on the great ship City of Detroit III. The room accoutrements were removed from the ship before it was scuttled and rebuilt within the museum. You can almost hear the murmurs of business discussions, smell the Havanas, and see the tilting of brandy snifters when in this area. It is like a transporter beam to a glorious, privileged past. We have some great photos in the link above, so make sure you check them out, but you also need to visit to get the complete feel of the experience.

In the Oliver Dewey Marcks Theater you can watch videos about the history of the Detroit River and Detroit itself. There was a lot in these videos that we did not know and it is always intriguing to see our area approaching in time, and then achieving, its heyday of shipbuilding, auto manufacture, and becoming the “arsenal of democracy” during World War II. The “Built by the River” experience ties together the activities on the river and surrounding bodies of water with the development of the Detroit Metro Area, from the time of the fur trade to recent history. You can watch the webcam of the Detroit River, sit in a simulated hydroplane as it roars down the river, or imagine yourself plying down the river in a canoe looking for places to trap and trade. In the William Clay Ford pilot house you can experience what it was like to pilot the great ship down the river, then go up into the actual pilot house that was removed from the ship and installed onto the museum. The view across the river to Windsor is spectacular from this vantage point. There is a functioning submarine telescope from the U.S.S. Tambor, fresnel lens-based lighthouse lamps, and much, much more. They even have the anchor from the Edmund Fitzgerald on exhibit outside.

The Dossin Great Lakes Museum re-opens to the public this weekend with their Grand Re-Opening, beginning on Saturday May 18 at noon. Their hours for the weekend are:

Saturday, 12:00 Noon to 6 PM
Sunday, 11:00 AM to 6 PM

The museum is located on Belle Isle at 100 Strand.

Dossin Great Lakes Museum
100 Strand Dr
Detroit, MI 48207

(313) 833-5538
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