Cyrus Kendrick, a Maine Maritime Museum volunteer since 2007, demonstrates the old system of ship launching. Mikayla Patel / The Forecaster

Maine Maritime Museum’s new manager of volunteer programs is working to build a wider base of what she calls “the ambassadors of the museum.”

Connie Hartley says the museum needs more volunteers, particularly for ship launch demonstrations, at the Donnell House, and on weekends.

Volunteering is a win-win for the volunteers and the museum, according to Hartley.

Connie Hartley says volunteers from all backgrounds and with various interests are welcome at the museum. Mikayla Patel / The Forecaster

“There are so many opportunities to build friendships and relationships with others,” Hartley said. “They’re also learning while they’re here. Our tour guides go through an extensive training program.”

The museum benefits from the volunteers because of the knowledge they bring in from various backgrounds, she said. Their backgrounds range from teachers and engineers to former employees of Bath Iron Works. No prior knowledge of maritime history is needed.

“The volunteers are really what makes my job so wonderful and enjoyable and interesting because their enthusiasm overflows into my job,” she said. “They are the ambassadors of the museum.”


Many of the current pool of 279 active volunteers are longtime members of the museum community, some for 20 or more years.

Cyrus Kendrick started volunteering at the museum in 2007. He gives demonstrations of the old ship-launching system, explaining to visitors how massive ships were  released onto the water in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Kendrick could use a hand with the demonstrations because people really enjoy seeing a visual reenactment to help them understand how the ship launchings worked, Hartley said.

Amanda Pleau, the museum’s marketing and communications manager, said the museum “honestly and truly would not be as successful of an organization without” its volunteers.

“I am inspired by our volunteers and their knowledge and dedication,” she said.

Donating time gives people a sense of purpose, Pleau said. Many of the volunteers are retired, so spending time at the museum provides them community and camaraderie.

The museum’s Donnell House, which was home to a shipyard owner in the 1890s, also needs volunteer help, Hartley said. The house has been furnished and decorated as it would have appeared in 1896, some rooms with the original furniture from that time. Tour guides take guests through the house and its history, which visitors love, Hartley said. Docents for the Donnell House are needed from May to November.

Volunteers for maintenance and facilities work are needed year round, Hartley said. Also, the Percy and Small shipyard is always seeking more volunteers. It is the only remaining intact wooden shipyard of its time in the United States.

To learn more about the museum and its volunteer opportunities, go to

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