Capital Campaign to Complete the Shenandoah, Enclose the Maritime Gallery and Create Engaging New Exhibits

Derived from the Shenandoah’s vessel documentation number, Project 224606’s aim is to raise $2,000,000 to enclose the Maritime Gallery, complete the Shenandoah, and create engaging new exhibits.


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Completion of the Shenandoah

Using an innovative half-restoration, half-conservation approach, the 65-foot wooden purse seiner Shenandoah will become a storyteller of great renown. From “tree to sea,” her stories will echo through the generations. The exhibit plan for the Shenandoah will increase its teaching ability and accessibility ten-fold. This approach will not only demonstrate restoration and conservation techniques, it will allow visitors to peer inside the hull of the boat as well as step aboard at deck level. The Museum has made a significant investment in the restoration of the Shenandoah–with more state grant and matching funds secured for the years ahead­. Yet all the work that has been done to date is being compromised by the wind and weather that blows into the current open enclosure. Hence the need for enclosing the gallery.

With an innovative treatment plan in place, the Shenandoah will feature a full restoration on the starboard side and careful conservation on the port side. This approach will highlight various boat building and restoration techniques as well as allow for engaging interpretation of the commercial fishing industry and the stories of the men and women who have made it their livelihood.


Enclosure of the Gallery

Enclosure of the Maritime Gallery will upgrade the safety, security, and accessibility of the Gallery while protecting the artifacts and exhibits from weather and vandalism. Protecting the Shenandoah, Thunderbird Hull #1, and other small craft is paramount to their long-term preservation. Capitalizing on the connection between boats and the Harbor, the gallery enclosure will allow for varied year-round use. With the opening of Donkey Creek, establishment of a conservation easement, and the installation of a walking trail behind the Museum, what was once a secure area has become wide open to the public. While it’s wonderful to share the project with passersby, our fencing is insufficient and our artifacts are at risk.

Creation of Engaging Exhibits & Programs in a Multi-Use Space

“…I also liked that in the gallery there were things you could interact with. I thought it was fun to go on the Shenandoah and learn about the tools they used to make the boat.”

- Ruth, a P.S.E. Student Visitor

The Museum has adopted an innovative exhibit strategy that will set the stage for multi-sensory engagement and broad spectrum access. Featuring life, history, and boats in perspectives “below, at, and above the waterline,” professionally designed exhibits will connect Gig Harbor to the world. The Museum will be able to increase the learning opportunities within the Gallery and better serve the public through enhanced exhibits, collections, and program & event space. For example, “Below the waterline” exhibits will offer a peek inside the hull to see how the Shenandoah was built, how the engine worked, and where the crew lived. “At the waterline” will allow visitors the opportunity to discover life aboard a salmon seiner, from work deck to galley to pilot house.

Preserving our history and culture while educating our community and the many visitors about it is our core purpose. This project will allow us to expand our exhibit areas by nearly 3,000 square feet, resulting in expanded service to schools, out-of-town visitors, and our local residents. Installation of new, multi-level decking on the interior and an exterior balcony, will increase useable space for programs and events by nearly 750 square feet.

With a specially designed Preservation Workshop included in the gallery design, treatment work can continue on key elements of our preservation projects–in full, yet secured view, for visitors to see and learn from.


Updated 5/8/2019

Updated 5/8/2019

Shenandoah: The Back Story

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Pasco Dorotich had the Shenandoah built by Skansie Shipyard for service as a cannery tender. Little did Dorotich know that the boat would wind up having three lives: One as a cannery tender, one as a purse seiner, and its last as a museum artifact destined to teach about the lives and livelihoods of those who built and skippered her.

 The Shenandoah is one of only two Skansie-built seiners left in Gig Harbor; one of a handful still in existence; and the only Skansie-built fish boat that is open to all.



“We have lived, breathed, and eaten from Puget Sound waters. Completion of the Maritime Gallery–through its enclosure and creation of engaging exhibits and interpretive experiences–will provide intriguing lenses through which we can see our past, explore our present, and imagine our future, while at the same time fulfilling and improving upon the original vision for the space.” - Stephanie Lile

Jon Smith Photography

Jon Smith Photography

Join the Crew and Help Make History Happen

Primary donor naming opportunities are available for named spaces in the Maritime Gallery. For more information on Project 224606 or to make a donation, please contact Stephanie Lile, Harbor History Museum Executive Director, at 253.858.6722 x3 or director@harborhistorymuseum.org.