DETROIT (WWJ) – Starting Saturday, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle will feature two new exhibits: “To Scale: Great Lakes Model Ship Builders” and “Bells and Whistles, Flags and Flashes: Lost Languages of the Lakes.”

Visitors can be engaged on a variety of different levels and experience the largest collection of model Great Lakes vessels anywhere at “To Scale: Great Lakes Model Ship Builders” exhibit.

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Model shipbuilding is an endangered folk art and is an important part of Great Lakes maritime culture. As such, guests can explore the art of model shipbuilding in a highly interactive way, learn about the history of model-making in the region and hear stories about specific vessels themselves.

Model-making tools will be showcased, and a model builder will be on site as well during select museum hours. This exhibit is sponsored by Art Works, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Visitors can also learn about the various methods used by mariners to communicate with other sailors, vessels and people along the shores in the “Bells and Whistles, Flags and Flashes” exhibit.

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Over the centuries, sailors used various tools and codes to communicate, including flags, flares, bells, whistles, drums and speaking trumpets. The advent of electronic communication brought telegraphy, lights, radios and cell phones.

All these special “languages” were encoded to allow these various tools to be employed and understood by other ships and shore-based observers. Adults and kids of all ages can enjoy learning about communication on the Great Lakes through an interactive display of ship horns, whistles and other unique devices.

The Dossin Great Lakes Museum, located at 100 Strand Drive on Belle Isle, is open Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free at the Museum for the duration of 2011, although donations are welcome.

Permanent exhibits include the Miss Pepsi 1950s championship hydroplane, a bow anchor from the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald, the pilothouse from the Great Lakes freighter S.S. William Clay Ford, and one of the largest known collections of scale model ships in the world.

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For more information, visit their website or call (313) 833-5538.