Maritime Museum Nears Completion

The Coos Maritime and Historical Museum is on the move again to its new location on the Central Dock on Coos Bay’s historic waterfront, just north of the Marshfield Sun Printing Museum. This will be the museum’s second move since its establishment in 1957. It was originally located in Coquille, Oregon until it was damaged by fire from a neighboring building in 1958.

The museum is currently located on Highway 101 in North Bend and was built by volunteers in 1958 shortly after the fire in Coquille. The current location was ideal at the time because that area of North Bend was constantly visited by tourists and towns people going to and from Simpson Park. However, over the years, the traffic patterns changed and the museum has become more isolated.

Anne Donnelly started and helped with the moving process until her resignation from the position as executive director of the Coos Historical Society in July of 2013.

“In the 1950s when Simpson Park attracted more foot traffic, the location was good, but the location became less and less aligned with the museum’s mission to be a community anchor to the past,” Donnelly said. “Here we have a location with a great view of the water front at the gateway to historic Front Street.”

The Coos Maritime and Historical Society bought the land from the city of Coos Bay with the nearly $1 million given by an anonymous donor to help kick-start the project, and an additional $3 million raised by the community and private donors. The land was foreclosed upon by Coos County and purchased by the city of Coos Bay for the purpose of the museum. The new location will show the Bay Area’s commercial past and will give the museum’s visitors a view of what once was.

“We’re trying to showcase the pretty and the gritty,” Donnelly said.

The museum is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2014, and the staff members are anxious to move in.  Plans are already underway to redo the exhibits, and make them more spacious. Vicki Wiese is the collections manager for the museum and has been put in charge of the move.

“The new facility is much more spacious. We plan on having a community hall for public events as well as a research library,” Wiese said. “We’ve maxed out our storage space here at our current location, and the new site will allow us more room to keep collecting our important documents.”

The museum plans on bringing a more hands-on feel to the new site by hosting book signings, movies, lectures and workshops.

“The community hall is going to be the heart of the space, because it will allow the public to participate,” Wiese said. “We’re always looking to draw more visitors and volunteers.”