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The SIL&MM opened its doors in 1999, but its story began long before that year.

Two brothers, Galen and Ted Turner, were the founders of what has become an extensive and informative picture of Swan's Island's past. Both men, life-long Swan's Island residents, worked on and with boats all their lives, and in talking with older Islanders, became aware of the rich maritime history of this small island. But they also realized that much of the Island's past would be lost unless it was collected and preserved.

To that end, the Turner brothers spent decades searching out links to Swan's Island's past. They discovered models and artifacts in island attics, talked to island old-timers about how things were done in the old days, dived in the harbor to retrieve old equipment that had been used for moorings, restored old motors and built models, and researched newspapers and historical archives for details about fishing and boat-building in their community.

The museum's location is a part of Swan's maritime history in itself, as it is the former home of Captain Henry Lee, whose name was given to the current ferry boat serving the island. It was once used as the island's library, but became available when the library moved to a new location. The early museum years were busy and productive. Donors received informative and entertaining newsletters; grants were awarded; the Turners' collections were properly displayed, photographs were framed and hung on the walls. CBS came to the island to film a full-length Sunday News segment about the museum. The Turners, self-taught historians, amazed the film crew with the depth of their knowledge of boat-building, fishing and the general history of the island.

The sudden passing of Galen, in November 2011, brought the Museum to a standstill. Closed and abandoned for 3 years, the Museum itself was becoming a dust-covered relic when Kathy Turner, Galen's widow, asked for volunteers to come in and clean the long-neglected building. On a sunny day in 2014, windows were washed, floors were mopped, artifacts were carefully dusted and the old building began to show signs of life. As a result, a Museum Committee was formed to return the Museum to an active role in island life.

Much remains to be done, and many new plans are afoot, but the Museum Committee is confident that we will once again be actively telling the story of the island's history.