The Dossin Great Lakes Museum, which is operated by the Detroit Historical Society, is a Great Lakes historical museum located on the shores of Belle Island. This museum chronicles the natural and culture histories of the Great Lakes and Detroit River areas, and it has a number of exhibits that rotate occasionally to ensure that guests always have something new to see at this tourist destination.
When visitors first walk into the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, they enter The Gothic Room, a room that is designed to look like the 1900s gentlemen's lounge from the ship City of Detroit III. This ship traveled between Detroit and either Cleveland or Buffalo and was scrapped in 1956. Before she went to the junkyard, the Dossin Historical Society raised money to buy the Gothic Room, which was essentially moved and restored in the museum. This is a popular location for special events and weddings, as it can be rented during non-museum hours.
Another maritime fixture that moved to the museum instead of being scrapped is the SS William Clay Ford pilot house. This freighter transported metals on the Great Lakes, typically from the River Rouge Steel Plant to the Ford Motor Company. It was scrapped in 1987, and at this point the entire pilot house was moved and reconstructed in the museum.
The L is for Lighthouse exhibit is another important and popular part of the Dossin Great Lakes Museum. Located in DeRoy Hall, this exhibit highlights the lighthouses of the Great Lakes region, recording their locations, navigational and lighting features, and more. There are also artifacts that chronicle the lives of the men and women who worked and, in some cases, lived in these structures, and there is a collection of lenses in this museum from lighthouses around the Great Lakes area.
There are a number of other permanent and temporary exhibits located at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum. This location is well known for their collection of ship models, which are rotated at least once a year. There's also a collection of signal flags, along with an exhibit about Detroit's growth in conjunction with the River and an exhibit on Bob-Lo Island.
When visiting this museum, guests can explore the exhibits on their own or they can join a tour to learn more about the Detroit area's maritime history from one of the museum's knowledgeable staff members. School tours are available for teachers or home school groups, and they also have tours available for families, church groups, senior citizen centers, and other organizations that are interested in guided tours.
The museum is available to host special events, and they also have a number of annual events every year, including the Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival, which features special exhibits, sessions on the shipwrecks in the Great Lakes areas, and other events in conjunction with the Ford Seahorses Scuba Diving Club. There are also day-long symposiums, galas, and charity events at this location every year.
The Dossin Great Lakes Museum is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Admission to this museum is free, though they do welcome donations at the door. For more information, visitors can call 313-833-7979.