“The Hudson River Maritime Museum, located on the Rondout waterfront in Kingston, commemorates the days when shipping—via oceans, rivers and canals—was the mode of delivery for nearly all of the goods that kept people alive. The Hudson River was, of course, the major conduit of commerce for New York City, delivering food, fuel and, well, everything else. This compact and colorful museum drops anchor in the deep end of Hudson Valley shipping, hosting exhibits on just about every aspect of our maritime heritage. Kids will love the Mathilda, an 1898 steam tug berthed outside the museum, at water’s edge!”
Click here for more of Don Wildman’s top museum picks across New York State.
Founded in 1980, the museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of maritime history on the Hudson River. Throughout the museum, you can find large collections of steamboats, tugboats, and sailboats from the 19th century. These boats all flowed to the canal system and waterfront industries and are now displayed today!
Many affordable, family-friendly programs and events are offered throughout the year, such as visiting vessels, special tours of the ports and specific parts of the museum, and festivals for the whole family!
Not only is the museum open to all, but it is also a research facility for historians, authors, filmmakers, and students. Come and see the history of the remarkable work done by maritime soldiers in the past.
Exhibits at the Hudson River Maritime Museum
You can expect to find many exhibits displaying different aspects of maritime history on the Hudson River. According to the museum, the exhibits cover topics about rowing, ferries, ecology and conservation, ice boats, fishing, ice harvesting, lighthouses, and so much more!
“The Hudson River and Its Canals: Building the Empire State”
- Explore the construction and opening of the three major canals in the Northeast: the Champlain Canal, Erie Canal, and Delaware & Hudson Canal
- These all were connected to the water highway of the Hudson River and were the starting point for the industrial revolution
- See the canals that changed the course of ideas, goods, and people throughout the United States!
“The Modeler’s Craft: An Artisan’s View of Hudson River Boats”
- Now through December 2018, “The Modeler’s Craft” displays boat models from the museum’s collection, as well as models from other organizations such as the Newburgh Historical Society and Friends of Historic Kingston.
“Charlie Niles Model Shop”
- Charlie Niles was a huge supporter of the museum and donated many tiny models of Hudson River Boats
- Niles, as a jeweler and watchmaker, made models for a hobby and wanted to contribute to the museum. When he passed away, his family donated the remainder of his models, as well as his work desk. They are now displayed in the East Gallery of the museum!
Riverport Wooden Boat School
This school was opened by the Hudson River Maritime Museum to preserve the boatbuilding heritage of the Hudson Valley. On Rondout Creek, workers were constantly using wood to build boats, especially during the World Wars and the Korean War.
Now, the school is used for adult classes and YouthBoat, an after-school program for kids.
- Bring your children to learn about wooden boat building and allow them to learn communication, leadership, and teamwork skills!
- Students are able to learn more about STEM skills through problem-solving and working with specialized tools and materials!
- To learn more information about YouthBoat, go to their website!
Riverport Sailing and Rowing School
In partnership with the Kingston Rowing Club and the Rondout Rowing Clubs, they collaborated to make the Riverport Sailing and Rowing School in 2017. The school offered rowing and sailing programs for youth, adult sailing classes, and U.S. sailing instructor certification courses.
- Ages 9-18 are welcome to sign up for four weeks of the Youth Sailing Summer Programs
- You will learn the basics of sailing through onshore instruction and on the water instruction!
- Enjoy a two-week session of crew training on Rondout Creek, right near the museum
- Learn skills in competitive rowing, and the maintenance of boats
- Adult classes are offered to those wanting to learn about U.S. Sailing Certified Instructor training, basic sailing classes, private lessons, and the Rowing Club’s program
To sign up, visit their website!
Planning Your Visit to the Hudson River Maritime Museum
- Metered street and municipal lot parking is available in front of the museum and throughout the Rondout Waterfront District
- HRMM is ADA accessible (docks and all buildings)
- Transient docking is available
- Well-behaved leashed pets are welcome on museum property
- Outdoor benches and picnic areas are available for public use
Come and see what this phenomenal museum has to offer!
History with Heart – “A true Hudson Valley gem. Smartly curated ‘real’ exhibits engaging for all ages. The Volunteers deeply care about preserving and presenting the deep Hudson Valley maritime history. I return and contribute often. Turn off your screen and dive in.”
Don D., Poughkeepsie, NY