Tahoe Maritime Museum sails toward winter
October 15, 2008
While most Lake Tahoe boaters are battening down the hatches or hauling their boats to dry dock for the winter, the folks at the Tahoe Maritime Museum are sailing into uncharted waters.
After a successful summer season in the museum’s new 5,800-square-foot building in Homewood, the museum’s staff will keep the facility open all winter for the first time in the museum’s 20-year history. The museum has switched to a three-day-a-week schedule from its six-day-a-week summer schedule but is planning new exhibits and programs to keep the visitors coming through the cold months.
“We had a phenomenal reception from the public this summer,” said Nicole Cheslock, the director for education and outreach for the museum. “And we’re very excited about being open this winter for the first time.”
The museum recorded more than 9,000 visitors from its opening on Memorial Day and the traditional end of summer on Labor Day, and more than 100 families signed up as members, bringing total membership to 650. A recent survey by the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association found that the museum ranked third behind Sierra College and Sierra Nevada College for public programming and education programs.
What’s more, the museum is coming close to successfully finishing the capital campaign to pay for its new quarters, styled after a classic Tahoe boathouse.
Cheslock expects the final $200,000 of that $4 million campaign to come in during the next two months.
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But the museum isn’t resting on its laurels. According to Cheslock and Executive Director Bill Kraus, the facility will be busy this winter on several fronts.
Cheslock said the museum will continue reaching out to local teachers to arrange field trips to the museum this winter. The museum’s new facility opened with only a couple of weeks left in the school year, so many classes studying local history didn’t have a chance to visit.
The museum has designed a curriculum for students from kindergarten to fifth grade but can tailor its program for older students as well. Recently a group of high school students trekked through the facility. All groups who visit are broken up into smaller groups for tours, games and crafts.
“We have the ability to let students explore and relate to what they are doing in the classroom,” Cheslock said. “Fourth-graders study magnetism, for instance, so we have a lesson about compasses and reading maps.”
One of the curriculum standards for third-graders, Cheslock said, is making a connection to local history. The museum helps in this effort with a 45-minute interactive presentation that explores important periods in Lake Tahoe history, from logging to how boats were used for industry and recreation.
“We talk about what it was like to live here before there was a road around the lake,” Cheslock said.
Behind the scenes, Kraus and the museum’s staff and volunteers will be busy cataloging its collection into an searchable electronic database as well as fanning out to find new artifacts to add to its collection. The museum has a collections committee that examines artifacts for possible inclusion in the museum’s collection.
“People see what we have and often want to contribute,” Cheslock said. “We’re always looking for things that have significance to the maritime life at Lake Tahoe.”
This summer, visitors were welcomed to Tahoe maritime history by walking down the main exhibit – a dock with classic boats from the 1890s through the 1960s moored to it. Old hydroplanes were featured, as well as the famous “Shanghai,” the 1890s wooden boat recovered from the depths of the lake eight years ago. There was a wall display of 20 antique outboard motors.
One of the 9,000 visitors was Cynthia Fladd of Milford, Conn., who visited the museum in August while vacationing at her brother’s house in Truckee.
“We were exhausted from hiking and swimming and decided to just have an easy, low-key day,” Fladd said. “But we spent three hours there. My boys loved it. You don’t think of Tahoe as having a lot of history ” at least we didn’t ” so we were surprised at how much history there was.”
To keep visitors coming back, the museum staff plans to repeatedly change out exhibits and rotate in different boats and artifacts from its 10,000-square-foot warehouse in Truckee.
Recently the museum set up two new exhibits ” a collection of historic photographs of Tahoe and a display of classic boating magazine covers.
“We want to locals to know that when they come back, there will be new things for them to see,” Cheslock said.
WHAT: Tahoe Maritime Museum
WHERE: 5205 West Lake Boulevard, Homewood
FALL AND WINTER HOURS: 10 a.m.. to 5 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
COST: $5. Free for members and children under 12.
MEMBERSHIP: Museum membership starts at $40 and includes free admission for the household for one year, invitations to special events and the museum newsletter.
MORE INFO: http://www.tahoemaritime.org
DONATIONS: People interested in donating to the New Building Capital Campaign can contact Heather Leonard, the museum’s director of development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-525-9253 ext 103.
WHAT: First annual member’s meeting.
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 18.
DETAILS: Event includes lunch and presentation from staff and board members and gives members a chance to view the two new exhibits set up since the summer.
COST: $10 per person. RSVP 525-9253
WHAT: Volunteer and docent training
WHEN: 9 to 10:30 a.m. Oct. 23
DETAILS: Geared to community members who want to share their knowledge of Lake Tahoe history with local students during field trips. The training will include a tour, tips for engaging youth, docent handbook and refreshments. RSVP 525-9253, ext. 102 or email@example.com.
WHAT: Invasive species presentation
WHEN:: 11a.m. to noon Oct. 23
DETAILS: Talk by the Tahoe Resource Conservation District, timely given TRPA’s new rules on Tahoe boating. Will include question-and-answer period as well as an opportunity to tour the museum. Tahoe AmeriCorps can also attend for free on Oct. 23 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
COST: Free with museum admission ($5)
WHAT: Movie Night (“A Night at the Museum”).
WHEN: 4 p.m. Oct. 30
DETAILS: Festivities kick off with sailboat model building, a scavenger hunt and face painting at 4 p.m. with movie beginning at 5:30 p.m.
COST: Free for kids under 12; $5 all others.