New exhibit opening at Door County Maritime Museum

Historical photo from Door County Maritime Museum’s new exhibit.

The Door County Maritime Museum will be opening a new exhibit, “Telegraphs of the Past,” Friday, January 27 in the upstairs lobby area at its Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin location.

This temporary exhibit centers on communication aboard a ship by way of a four-stage presentation. It is the second in a series of exhibits in the upper lobby designed to give the public a look at the museum’s collection of artifacts. For much of 2016, the lobby space was dedicated to shipwreck artifacts.

“On a sea-going vessel, navigational officers control the ship’s navigation from the bridge,” said museum curator Adam Gronke. “Engineering officers control the propulsion of the ship from the engine room. Because of this separation, reliable communication is required between the navigational officer and engineer to ensure smooth and safe sailing.”

Gronke said as visitors go through the exhibit, they will first learn about the use of voice pipes and be given the opportunity to interactively use one.

“Two people will be able to speak to each other through the tubes much like two crew members would on board a ship,” he said.

The visitor will also be introduced to the Sound Powered Telephone, which is a device that allows users to talk to each other, almost like a conventional telephone, but does not require external power.

As evident in the exhibit’s title, the advent of the engine telegraph plays a significant role in the presentation.

“Because of the importance of this innovation and the large number of engine telegraphs within our collection that will be on display, this will be the main focus of the exhibit,” said Gronke. “This section will have eight telegraphs, mechanical and electrical. One particular mechanical engine telegraph will have a chain guided through the ceiling, demonstrating how that particular type of telegraph would be linked into the communication of the ship.”

Visitors will have the opportunity to watch a short video of engine telegraphs in use aboard the S.S. Badger, the historically significant ferry built in Sturgeon Bay, and other ships that continue to use the engine telegraph crossing Lake Michigan.

The most current forms of communication will also be presented, as will personal stories of those who have used the assortment of devices that span the exhibit.

“Some of these stories will give examples of how these communication devices have saved lives and are important in the evolution of sailing,” said Gronke.

The exhibit opens in time for the first Free Kids Day which begins Sunday, January 29 and continues Sundays through March. Children 12 and under will be admitted free when accompanied by a paid adult.

Call the museum at (920)743-5958 or click here for more information.

Maritime Editorial