Changing Our Course!

Tahoe Maritime Museum to Auction its Collection of
Boats and Engines through Bring A Trailer as part of Reorganization

On July 15, 2020 the Tahoe Maritime Museum Board of Directors announced the selection of Bring A Trailer (, an online vehicle auction company, as the venue for the disposition of the museum’s antique boat and engine collection. The public sale of the collection is the second stage of the deaccession process. In the first stage, TMM identified other area museums who have the capacity to acquire the items and whose missions align with our vessels’ histories. Subsequently, several of the boats are being transferred to the collections of the museums that have room to care for and display the artifacts. However, the majority of TMM’s collection will be going to auction. Earlier this year TMM’s Board notified it’s members and donors that it would be deaccessioning the entire collection as part of the museum’s reorganization into a maritime foundation, and that it would be ceasing all physical operations in Lake Tahoe by the end of the year. After 20 plus years of preserving and interpreting Tahoe’s maritime heritage the changing community interests and decreasing philanthropic support made it impossible for the museum, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, to meet its annual fundraising goals to support a museum and house such a large collection within the Tahoe Basin.

Since 2000, Tahoe Maritime Museum acquired its collection of over 50 antique boats and marine engines through purchase and donation, and it is representative of many national and Northern California boatbuilders from the first half of 20th Century. The collection is made up of classic runabouts and utilities from Chris-Craft, Gar Wood, Hacker-Craft, Dodge, Century, Higgins, Philbrick, and Besotes among others. About half of the boats in the collection had a long history on Tahoe’s waters before entering the museum for display purposes. The marine engine collection is made up of outboard motors and inboard power plants that came out of the factories of Evinrude, Elto, Johnson, Mercury, Chris-Craft, Scripps, Packard, and Hicks Marine, and range from the most common models to one of a kind racing motors.

The museum is following the protocols and stages for deaccessioning the collection as established in TMM’s Collections Policy and based on the standards set by the American Alliance of Museums. Since public sale via
auction is the second stage of disposition of artifacts, the museum had to explore various options in the current environment with COVID-19 restrictions. The selection of Bring A Trailer was based on their strong
record of successful online vehicle auctions, its popularity with collectors, and its ability to best take the place of a live in person auction.

TMM recommends that all interested buyers sign up to receive Bring A Trailer’s daily emails at ( and request their boat category specific updates. The museum will also be posting
information regarding the upcoming auctions on its website ( and Facebook page.

With the reorganization of the nonprofit, the Board of Directors’ goal is to establish an endowed foundation that will continue to preserve maritime history by providing grants to other museums, schools, and organizations in Lake Tahoe, Northern California, and the greater United States.

Do you have questions? Join us for another Zoom Woodie Whoopie on Saturday, July 18th at 5 pm. A TMM representative will be in the meeting to answer questions. Watch for your email Zoom invitation with the link to join the meeting.  See you then!