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SS Meteor adds new exhibits

Visitors touring the SS Meteor this year will find new exhibits to explore. Cedar cases and a mix of artifacts on board the whaleback ship have been replaced with seven new panels sharing a Superior tale.

"They are going to tell our story," said Sara Blanck, executive director of Superior Public Museums.

While the Maritime Museum in Duluth has long highlighted Twin Ports shipping and vessels, the Meteor's new exhibits will go local with the story of ship designer and developer Alexander McDougall, his shipyards and his notable whaleback ships, like the SS Christopher Columbus.

Built in Superior, the Columbus holds the record for carrying more passengers during her career than any other vessel on the Great Lakes. During the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, the whaleback ferried 8,000 passengers back and forth every day.

It took years to put the new exhibits together.

"Some of this information we're putting in the exhibit isn't on the internet," Blanck said. "There are certain panels only one person in the world could write."

The big focus is on McDougall, his ships and his shipyards.

"He's a really cool person in our history," Blanck said.

Before the new exhibits are unveiled, the whaleback ship museum will get some spring cleaning. Volunteers are needed to help paint, clean, make beds, set tables and do some construction projects on board the Meteor 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 29 and April 30. Volunteers can come for a short amount of time, or all weekend.

"We've had some people coming back for 10 years or so," Blanck said. "The camaraderie's great."

Visit gllsps.clubexpress.com to sign up for the 13th annual SS Meteor preservation and stabilization project. Volunteers should wear their painting clothes; lunch provided.

Catch a sneak peek of the new panels during a preview party aboard the Meteor May 19. The event begins with a ribbon cutting at 4:30 p.m. and an "open cargo hold" from 5-7 p.m. featuring music.

Stop back by May 21 for the reopening celebration of both the Meteor and the Old Firehouse and Police Museum. The event includes free tours, cake, punch and coffee from noon to 4.

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