Maritime museum set to open in May | SierraSun.com

Maritime museum set to open in May

Julie Brown
Sierra Sun

Time has flown by since construction crews first broke ground on the Tahoe Maritime Museum’s new home last spring, and museum staff is already preparing for the renovated museum’s grand opening celebrations this coming May.

It’s almost been a year and work is just about wrapped up on the construction of the two-story, 5,800-square-foot building, with some outside work and interior finishes remaining.

“I think that that is just kind of historic for Tahoe, or for anywhere,” said Polly Bredt, whose husband Tom Bredt is the museum’s board president. “It looks like the plans looked, which one of our board members is most amazed at.”

But there’s still a lot to do before the state-of-the-art museum opens its doors for the first time. Exhibits need to be installed, computer systems have to be set up and museum staff is looking to recruit volunteer docents in the coming weeks.

Despite the to-do list, staff is ready to open the brand new Tahoe Maritime Museum to the public on Saturday, May 24 as part of the West Shore Association’s annual Opening Day at the Lake celebrations.

“Everything is going according to schedule,” said Executive Director Bill Kraus. “We’re very excited about opening on May 24 … Really, it’s just a matter of some final touches on the interior of the building and moving the exhibits in.”

The building is styled as a classic Tahoe boat house, Kraus said, with an expansive, open room accentuated by steel beams.

“[A donor] couldn’t believe the architecture and the design of the building,” Kraus said, referring to the response following a tour of the museum earlier this week.

“Everybody who has been through the building is very excited.”

The main exhibit will be designed as a pier, Kraus said, with several classic wooden boats, spanning the decades from the late 1890s to the 1960s, attached to the dock.

Old hydroplanes will be featured, as will the famous “Shanghai,” the late-1890s wooden boat that was recovered from the depths of Lake Tahoe in 2000, said Nicole Cheslock, director of education and outreach.

“I think we’re going to have thousands of people coming through [the museum],” Cheslock said. “It sounds like people are really looking forward to seeing the new museum and being a part of it.”

Visitors are expected to crowd the museum during opening celebrations, but the museum already has a long list of donors, sponsors and supporters who have participated to make the renovation possible.

“We’ve been very overwhelmed and humbled by the generous donations of people both living here in the community and people outside the community who cherish Lake Tahoe,” Kraus said.

When all is said and done the museum will be a premier educational facility to give visitors an interactive look at an important aspect of Tahoe’s history. Through boating museum visitors can explore the rest of Tahoe’s history, said Kraus.

“The maritime history is a great backdrop on which to understand the logging, the fishing, the tourist trade,” Kraus said. “It basically all centered around boats.”

The museum, in addition to boosting the historical significance of the West Shore, will also help establish a sense of community in Homewood, said Rob Weston, who owns West Shore Sports in Homewood and serves on the West Shore Association’s board of directors.

“I honestly believe that,” Weston said.