Museum Exhibits

The Bellingham Maritime Museum prides itself on its diverse collection of informative exhibits, boats and artifacts, models and photographs dating from the first native canoes to the present time.

Boats on Display

  • Wooden Pleasure Boats

    Vintage and Reproduction Boats

    The collection of about a dozen boats in various stages of restoration, are on display to the public at any given time.  These include a wooden hull boat, created by naval architect, Richard Poole who passed away before completion.   Classic wooden launch and runabout restorations by Terry Buzzard and Dick Montague are periodically displayed. Two early fiberglass pleasure boats include a 14’ red Uniflight run-about, the 9th built by United Boat Builders Inc., but numbered 109 to appear that there were faster sales.  It was restored by museum volunteers.  A baby blue, 1957 16’ Bell Boy hardtop, is in the process of restoration.  To learn more go to… Museum Restoration Projects.

    A collection of unique fiberglass and wooden vessels are being restored on museum premises. The Bellingham Maritime Museum is a working museum with groups of volunteers taking on the many challenges to preserve and restore boats, artifacts and Northwest Maritime History.

  • PACV Hovercraft combat vehicle from the Vietnam Conflict

    Military Watercraft

    The only surviving PACV Hovercraft combat vehicle from the Vietnam Conflict, as well as a working, restored, WWII, Army DUKW are on public exhibit.  The MK I PBR, nicknamed the “Ugly Duckling” for its combat damage, was built in 1966 by United Boat Builders of Bellingham. It is numbered 65.  Many of her original crew from her service in Vietnam have re-connected with this vessel.  This exhibit includes photos of her in action and notes from Veterans who served on her.  The PACV Hovercraft and MK I PBR actually served together on the Perfume River during the “Tet Offensive” in Viet Nam in 1968. We like to think that at night, they are telling stories and reliving their adventures.  The USN PACV Hovercraft was manufactured on the Isle of Wight, England by British Hovercraft Corp.

  • Remote Control Boat Pond

    Scale and Radio Control Model Boat Collection

    BIMM’s large collection of highly detailed, scale model ships appeals to all ages. From large ships, to very small tugs, fishing boats and sailing ships, these works of art, painstakingly created by individuals such as Paul Schneider and Keith Schermerhorn over periods of months to years are a marvel to look at.   Children and adults will be fascinated by the skill involved in creating these wonders.  A detailed replica of the World War II Liberty Ship, “SS Patrick Henry”, is a scale model of a boat originally 440 in length.  The museum features an 8,000-gallon water tank in which kids can earn their Radio Controlled Boat ‘Skipper’s License’!

Local Industry History

  • Pacific American Fisheries In Bellingham, WA

    Pacific American Fisheries – Industry by the Sea
    One of the world’s largest salmon canning operations, Pacific American Fisheries operated on Puget Sound and in Alaska between 1899 and 1965, with headquarters in Bellingham along the Fairhaven waterfront. As one of the world’s largest processors of Pacific salmon, PAF claimed a global market and the company had regional, national, and even international significance.  In the 1940s, Pacific American Fisheries (PAF) in Fairhaven was the world’s largest salmon cannery in the world, providing at its peak 4,500 jobs for local residents and more than 1,000 Chinese laborers. Historical photographs make this industry come alive.  It closed in 1966.

  • Fairhaven Shipyards

    Bellingham Shipyards

    Founded by Arch Talbot prior to WWII, the Bellingham Shipyards established a national reputation for excellence in wooden shipbuilding and the pioneering of fiberglass boats. During WWII, Bellingham Shipyards was the largest privately owned shipyard in the United States and was the only Shipyard to receive 6 Navy ‘E” awards for excellence. Bellingham Shipyards set the Navy’s quality standard, for wooden Minesweepers and support craft during both WWII and the Korean War.

  • Fairhaven Shipyards & All American Marine

    Since 2005, Fairhaven Shipyards has dominated boat repair on the south bay.  With an 800-foot-long and 60-foot-wide pier, a dry dock, a 65-ton capacity floating crane, a 140-ton capacity land crane, and a number of other mobile cranes, Fairhaven Shipyards is also equipped with a second dry dock, the $12 million semi-submersible “Faithful Servant,” towed from China in early 2009. In 2000, Fairhaven Shipyards employed 110 full-time employees.  Next door, All American Marine continues the tradition of boat building in Fairhaven by creating state-of-the-art, foil supported aluminum catamarans.


  • Uniflite fiberglass pleasure and patrol vessel

    Fiberglass Pleasure Craft and Patrol Vessels

    Uniflite (United Boat Builders) was started in Bellingham by Art Nordtvedt in October of 1957, with the first boat, an all fiberglass 17′ outboard.  Although the company is best remembered as a maker of recreational powerboats, its initial products were small, fiberglass runabouts.  The company also supplied Patrol Boats, River (PBRs) to the U.S. Navy between 1965 and 1972 for use in the Viet Nam conflict. Uniflite became one of the largest and most respected makers of fiberglass boats in the country.  The company was later acquired in 1984 by Chris-Craft, continuing to build the boats under their brand until they ceased production in 1989.

Historical Exhibits

  • coast-salish-shovelnose-canoe

    Coast Salish

    This exhibit features illustrations of canoe designs and construction.  We hope to expand this collection in the future to include actual canoes and other artifacts.

  • NOAA-National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

    NOAA – 200 year Anniversary
    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

    The “NOAA Heritage Week” and 200-Year Anniversary exhibit features a history of the Agency, it’s current structure, role, and missions, and a focus on the specific ways in which NOAA interacts with the community, and participates in the economy of Bellingham and Puget Sound.  On display are photographs and information on NOAA locations, ships and activities.  A former NOAA vessel the “Admiral’s Barge” #1214, was donated to the museum for public viewing.

  • Smithsonian Exhibit - Sea to Shining Sea

    Smithsonian Exhibit

    From Sea to Shining Sea: “Charting America’s Coasts”

    BMM is one of only 200 U.S. museums to host this special exhibit.  In 2007, NOAA celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Coast Survey originally charged by Thomas Jefferson to provide a “complete and accurate chart of every part of the coasts” of the United States. The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and NOAA produced a special 20-poster exhibit set that explores the Coast Survey’s history, accomplishments, and scientific contributions. Richly illustrated with photos, charts, and artwork held in the Survey’s archives, these colorful posters provide a foundation for programs and exhibits about your organization’s resources and associations with boating, shipping, and maritime history.

  • United_States_Coast_Guard_Cutter_Chandeleur

    United States Coast Guard  –  Northwest Presence
    With a large Coast Guard presence in Bellingham, our exhibit has information on aircrafts, ships, facilities and boats utilized by the organization. Included in this section are charts of the San Juan Islands and a map of local lighthouses.  A large model of a 110’ Island Class Coast Guard patrol boat is on permanent display.

Museum Artifacts

  • 17th Century Canon

    17 th Century Iron Cannon

    A very early iron cannon found in Bellingham, whose origin and age is yet to be determined, is on exhibition, along with the mystery surrounding it. The original markings can still be clearly seen, but it is unknown where it came from and who made it.

  • 1875 Union Anchor

    Tall Ship Anchors

    A collection of anchors salvaged from local waters awaits your personal discovery. The anchor from the wreck of the 1875 sailing Bark, “Union” is being preserved and displayed in a tank of fresh water until it can be made ready for air.  This special piece was recovered off of Lummi Island during the summer of 2007 with the co-operation of NOAA, the “Island Caper” and many local volunteers.  BMM’s next project is the search for the Captain Vancouver’s lost anchor from the Chatham.

  • Miscellaneous Maritime Artifacts

    BMM’s wide collection of artifacts include many antique items, such as a brass ship’s telegraph, a Clift Engine, made in Bellingham in early 1900’s and a 100 year-old steam engine from a sunken steam tug, “Charlotte”. The engine had been in at least two vessels previously.  BMM plans to recover the boiler and recreate the engine room for exhibition.

    Also on display are genuine vintage telescopes, and an Azimuth Circle, an instrument used to obtain bearings on objects relative to the ship.  A Navy Standard liquid-filled magnetic compass and an illuminated dial Pelorus navigation tool are fascinating to see.

Maritime Museum