Member Highlight: Discovery Center & Pier

The Discovery Center & Pier are a shared campus to five water-based nonprofit organizations in northwest Michigan:

• Great Lakes Children’s Museum
• Maritime Heritage Alliance
• Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay
• Inland Seas Education Association
• Traverse Area Community Sailing

The Traverse Tall Ship Company operates from the campus as an affiliate business partner.

The organizations, while co-located on the 15-acre campus, largely operate from their own buildings. Obviously, having access to a deepwater port and more than 11,000 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline make this facility different and uniquely suited for organizations with boats and/or a connection to water. (Only Great Lakes Children’s Museum does not operate a boat.)

The owner is a division of the local Rotary Club. It is mainly managed by the member organizations through a separate nonprofit. A plan is being developed for a new nonprofit center that would house most of the partners’ operations under one roof.

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The Discovery Center & Pier is home to the largest fleet of tall ships on the American side of the Great Lakes:

• Schooner Madeline – operated by the Maritime Heritage Alliance
• Schooner Utopia – operated by the Inland Seas Education Association
• Schooner Manitou – operated by the Traverse Tall Ship Company
• Cutter Champion – operated by the Maritime Heritage Alliance
• Schooner Inland Seas – operated by the Inland Seas Education Association (occasionally)

An interesting fact about the Utopia is that it circumnavigated the world on two separate occasions piloted by its designer, builder, and initial owner, the late Fred Peterson, who founded Peterson Builder in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

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NorthSky Nonprofit Network
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Center Name: Discovery Center & Pier

Location: Traverse City, MI

Center Website:

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