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About the Long Island Maritime Museum
Our Mission Statement


Exquisitely carved mastheads like this one
adorned large ships during the 1800-1900s

The stated purpose of the museum shall be:

  • To preserve Long Island's maritime history and heritage for educational purposes.
  • To purchase, collect, restore and preserve boats, vessels and related equipment having to do with past and present maritime activities of Long Island, including but not limited to shipbuilding, whaling, shell fishing, commercial and sport fishing, wild fowling, pleasure and competitive boating, watercraft and the ethnic heritage pertaining there to.
  • To restore, preserve, interpret, display and exhibit watercraft of historical interest, models of ships and small craft, tools and implements of the maritime crafts and trades, wild fowling decoys, paintings, prints, maps, charts, and books, and displays featuring wildlife.

LIMM by-laws, Art. I sec.4 adopted by the Board of Trustees, Long Island Maritime Museum, 4/21/1993

The History of the Long Island Maritime Museum

On December 16, 1966 a group of concerned citizens founded the Suffolk Marine Museum dedicated to the collection and preservation of artifacts of the maritime history of Long Island, New York. Long Island, 120 miles long and 14 miles wide, bounded by the Long Island Sound to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the south and New York City to the west has, since our nation's beginning, been deeply involved in its maritime history. Native Americans, followed by settlers from New England, immigrants from Europe and suburbanites from New York City have fished, harvested shellfish, gone whaling and built ships and boats on its shores. Today, pleasure boating is one of Long Island's largest industries. With this rich heritage as a foundation, the Museum, located in West Sayville, on the Great South Bay, opened its doors to the public on May 1, 1968. It has been open on a regular schedule ever since. The Museum received its absolute charter from the New York State Board of Regents in November, 1983.The Board of Trustees, in cooperation with the Suffolk County Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation chose a path of development which provided for a Museum Board, with its fund-raising abilities, to develop the collection of vessels, historic buildings, machinery and artifacts. The Parks Department supported the staff and maintenance costs. The staff was supplemented by state, federal and private grants for special projects.

In 1993, direct operational support from Suffolk County ceased. Operations were privatized under the corporate identity, Long Island Maritime Museum. That year the Museum's charter was amended to reflect a change of operating name to the Long Island Maritime Museum. This change reflected the expansion the Museum's focus and audience to include all of Long Island.

Today, a full time staff of three, six to ten part timers and a dedicated volunteer force successfully operate the Museum and its programs. Many of our maintenance and restoration projects have been adopted by volunteers, under staff supervision, as educational programs.