Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Dossin Great Lakes Museum

Located on Strand Drive on Belle Isle, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum is dedicated to showcasing the story of the Great Lakes, with a special emphasis on Detroit’s role in regional and national maritime history. Visitors to this 16,000 square foot museum enjoy exhibits that tell more than 300 years of the region’s rich maritime history, from the shipping fleets that rule the waterways to the varied roles that the Great Lakes and the Detroit River have played in our region’s industrial and social history.

In 1949, the Detroit Historical Commission opened the City’s Maritime Museum aboard the landed wood schooner J.T. Wing, which was the last commercial sailing ship on the Great Lakes. By 1956, however, the Maritime Museum was closed due to the deteriorating condition of the J.T. Wing. The Dossin family generously stepped forward with funds for a new maritime museum and on July 24, 1961, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum opened on the J.T. Wing’s former Belle Isle site.

In 2007, the Detroit Historical Society funded a series of improvements to the Dossin Great Lakes Museum. In addition to several infrastructure improvements, a variety of new and refreshed exhibits were opened.   

Visitors to the recently renovated Dossin Great Lakes Museum enjoy several permanent exhibits, including:

  • The Miss Pepsi, a championship hydroplane raced by the Dossin family in the 1940s and 1950s
  • The massive bow anchor of the legendary Edmund Fitzgerald The S.S. William Clay Ford Pilot House, where visitors can “captain” one of the city’s most noted freighters
  • The restored Gothic Room, or smoking lounge, from the S.S. City of Detroit III, which transports visitors back to the golden age of Great Lakes cruise ships
  • One of the largest known collection of scale model ships in the world

In addition, the Museum also features a variety of changing exhibits and attractions, as well as films, lectures and other programs.



Dossin Great Lakes Museum photo

Miss Pepsi on display in the Dossin

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