History and Mission


In late 1995, a group of visionary citizens – Alexandria residents and long-time summer residents alike – formed the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum. They recognized the value of these lake traditions and legacies, and the need to preserve for future generations the memories that make Minnesota so special. Their vision included securing and displaying existing collections and documenting traditions through artifacts and memorabilia.

The Museum’s first location was in the Ag Building on the campus of the Runestone Museum where it opened to the public on October 4, 2004. It operated in half of the building throughout 2005 while plans were being made to build a new facility. In 2005 the Museum reached an agreement with the City of Alexandria to acquire the old maintenance garage on 3rd Avenue West. In November of 2005 ground breaking took place on the site and the building design was finalized. Construction on the building continued into 2006 with a grand opening in August of that year. 2007 was the first full year of operation in the new facility.

In 2008 the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum broke ground on a museum expansion to the north of the existing building. The North Gallery now houses inboards from the Mammel Collection among others. It is home to The History of Chris-Craft and Gar Wood exhibits. The space is used to host events and has direct access to the Maritime Gardens.

The Maritime Gardens project began as a concept in 2010 with fundraising following thereafter. The first phase of this multi-phase project was completed by the fall of 2012. The following year the second phase began with much of the scheduled plantings, walkways and structures completed in 2013 and early 2014. The Gardens are a work in progress and there is still much to be accomplished. Thanks to the support of many generous benefactors and various organizations, what was once only a concept on paper is becoming a reality that everyone can enjoy. It plays a significant role in completing a community dream of developing the north end of Broadway into a people-friendly destination.

In the spring of 2016 the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum changed it’s name and branding strategies to Legacy of the Lakes Museum. The new name and new look are the result of a strategic planning process that began with an interpretive plan, which has helped the museum create a more engaging experience for visitors, followed by a branding initiative designed to better communicate the museum’s mission. Visitors are amazed at the quality of our exhibits and the celebration of life at the lake. The new brand helps us tell that story in a much more powerful way.

The Legacy of the Lakes Museum and Gardens is a living legacy to those who have contributed their time, talents and financial support to make it happen. Those interested in supporting the Museum and Gardens can find information on the Support section of this website, or by contacting the Museum at 320-759-1114.

The Mission of the Legacy of the Lakes Museum

The Legacy of the Lakes Museum, Alexandria Minnesota, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of antique and classic watercraft, resort memorabilia and sporting equipment used on the Minnesota lakes.