Unique War of 1812 Exhibition opens at Maritime Museum

Experience the dramatic highs and lows of the War of 1812 on the Great Lakes at the recently opened ''War on the Great Lakes,'' a new exhibition at the Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven, Michigan. The Michigan Commission for the Commemoration of the War of 1812 has sanctioned the exhibit as a major commemorative event.

This family-friendly exhibition, commemorating the 200th anniversary of the start of the War of 1812, includes 12 unique exhibition areas featuring the Battle of Lake Erie, major events in the war surrounding Chicago, the Straits of Mackinac and Detroit, and more. For 18 months, the Michigan Maritime Museum will feature historic documents, paintings, archeological artifacts, weapons used in the conflict and ship models.

''History enthusiasts will appreciate the many original artifacts on display here, a rare opportunity to see so many original pieces on exhibition in one location,'' said Phil Porter, chairman of the Michigan Commission for the Commemoration of the War of 1812 and director of Mackinac State Historic Parks. ''Highlights include a document signed by President Jefferson, portions of ships actually present at the Battle of Lake Erie, and manifests from vessels plying the Great Lakes bound for destinations from Montreal to Mississippi.''

Porter added that visitors will also enjoy a diorama of the Battle of Lake Erie. ''This battle involved 15 vessels dueling with great guns never again heard on the Great Lakes,'' he said.

The exhibition consists of loaned materials from more than a dozen museums.

''This includes several from Canada, private collectors and skilled craftsmen who are offering the people of the Great Lakes region a unique compilation of what might otherwise only be viewed by driving hundreds of miles,'' said Michigan Maritime Museum Executive Director Patti Montgomery Reinert. ''We have had excellent cooperation from so many other museums and collections to bring about a very special visitor experience. There is something very thrilling to see documents and artifacts that would have been familiar to and utilized by a founding father and many courageous early pioneers, helping to settle and carve livelihoods from the Michigan Territory and its surrounding waters.''

A speaker series is offered throughout the duration of the exhibit. In addition, the Michigan Maritime Museum will sponsor special events commemorating the declaration of war, the capture of the ship, Friends Good Will, and the Battle of Lake Erie.

The exhibition is open from 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. every day. The cost is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $4.50 for children. For more information about the exhibition, contact the Michigan Maritime Museum at 269-637-8078 or log on to www.michiganmaritimemuseum.org.

The governor-appointed Michigan Commission on the Commemoration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 is charged with encouraging, planning, and developing activities, events, programs, observances and services appropriate to commemorate Michigan's role in the War of 1812. More information can be found at www.michigan.g ov/war1812.

Published: Mon, May 14, 2012