Support the Museum

Support the Museum – Donations & Membership

Please consider giving to the Maritime Museum of San Diego!

To Give: Click Here

Dear Shipmates:

HMS Surprise has been with us many years now, and she was an old ship when she came into our care, so it’s no “surprise” that she has needed ongoing care ever since. In recent years we have replaced a significant portion of her framing as well as a lot of her planking below the waterline and also below the waterline she has been almost entirely refastened. We’ve repaired and upgraded her mechanical systems and brought her fire suppression system into compliance. Two years ago we began and then completed the substantial task of replacing her entire weather deck, substituting the multilayered system we’ve used in our other ships for the traditional planking she came to us with, making her far stronger and more weathertight than she was before. In every case we were able to do this because of you, our generous members who recognized her value and in homage to this sentiment, we’ve always replaced old components with new materials and equipment that is stronger, longer lasting, and better engineered than what we took out, which is what we need to do if she is going to last indefinitely.

HMS Surprise needs to last indefinitely for a number of reasons. First of all, she is beloved by devotees of nautical fiction around the world for the convincing on-screen portrayal of her literary namesake in Master and Commander: The Far Side Of The World. A film that has now become a cult classic and considered one of the best historical fiction films of all time. In like fashion, she is also among very few artifacts extant capable of transporting museum visitors figuratively to another time in which sailing men of war determined the fate of nations and the nature of the world we now inhabit. Finally, she is also representative of those ships which explored the vast Pacific in the eighteenth century, generating ripples of knowledge and perception that catalyzed an age and defined the Enlightenment. As a Museum we tell stories, and no museum anywhere uses living, active ships to tell stories better. In pursuit of this calling, no ship which still sails has ever represented an entire age better in literary, cinematographic, and physical form than the frigate Surprise.

Which brings me to the point. If HMS Surprise is to continue captivating imagination and affection, she must have much of her starboard side planking replaced. That planking was compromised when she came to us and moored port side to, it’s her starboard side which has been exposed to the sun and the elements all these years to further ill effect. Without undertaking this task we won’t even be able to have visitors come on board much longer. We already have much of the necessary materials at hand and are poised to begin.

So shipmates, as in the past our ancient enemy, time itself, is hove in sight, and even at great distance if you listen hard enough, you can hear the drums in HMS Surprise sound “beat to quarters” once more. With your help, we can win this battle we all wage against time, for after all, “Surprise is on our side!”

Ray Ashley, Ph.D., K.C.I.
President/ CEO, Maritime Museum of San Diego

HMS Surprise

Photo by Jerry Soto

To Give: Click Here

Or send your donation to :
Maritime Museum of San Diego
1492 N Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101

Make a 100% tax-deductible investment to the Maritime Museum’s mission of preserving our history and you are investing in your communities future.

To Join, Renew, and Gift Memberships, CLICK HERE

Museum Membership

As a member of the Maritime Museum of San Diego, you support our preservation and education efforts, and in return receive many benefits! Bring the adventure and discovery to life as often as you would like – choose the membership plan that is right for you.

Membership packages include these benefits:

  • FREE admission
  • FREE guest passes & Bay Tour Tickets (4 guest passes & 2 bay tour tickets with each membership)
  • Maritime journal Mains’l Haul
  • FREE newsletters
  • Crew and upper level memberships, includes 2 children per card (if you have more than 2, you can use guest passes for admittance)
  • Plus so much more

Museum Membership Grid

Join, renew, and gift Memberships.

For more information contact our Membership Coordinator at 619-234-9153 x128
or click here to send email.

Through your membership, you support the Maritime Museum of San Diego, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and presenting our rich Pacific maritime heritage.

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Click the Amazon Smile logo and it will direct you to, Maritime Museum Association of San Diego as the place you want to support, shop as usual, and the Museum gets a percentage of the sale. It’s that easy.


Maritime Museum of San Diego is proud to introduce an exciting new promotional partnership with WoodenBoat Magazine, the premier publication worldwide for wooden boat owners, builders, enthusiasts and designers.

When you use our exclusive website to subscribe, WoodenBoat Magazine will donate $10 to the Maritime Museum of San Diego per new subscriber!

You can support the Museum’s restoration efforts, ongoing educational programs, exhibits and fun-filled cruise events, while enjoying all the exclusive content that WoodenBoat Magazine has to offer.

For more than forty years, WoodenBoat Magazine has provided generations of readers with all the latest news, innovations and thoughtful commentary on traditional methods of boat design, construction and repair, with vibrant photography, engaging feature articles, and detailed project, design and maintenance advice. A one-year subscription includes six unique print issues delivered to your home – save up to 29% off the cost of buying on newsstands!

Subscribe for yourself, or give a gift to a friend, and take advantage of this special offer supporting Maritime Museum of San Diego!

You can follow the link below, call toll-free 800-877-5284 (use the promo code 99MMSD), or stop by the Maritime Museum Gift Store to subscribe in person.

Click Here to take advantage of the Special Offer


Planned Giving

Welcome! We are pleased that you are interested in learning about the many benefits of gift plans. If you have any questions about the best way for you to benefit through a planned gift, please call. A member of our Planned Giving Team will be glad to help you. Contact Development at 619-234-9153 x 126

To learn about:

  • Donor Stories
  • Gift Options
  • Personal Planner
  • Washington News
Click Here

Vehicle Donation Program

A San Diego treasure, the Maritime Museum of San Diego is more than a collection of world-class exhibits and ships. It is a family of volunteers, members, and supporters like you, who are joined together by their passion for the sea, maritime history, and creating an inspiring and enlightening experience for children and adults alike. Thank you for your support.

Donating Is Easy!

Donating a car is easy! And so is donating other vehicles. We accept all types of vehicles nationwide — cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, ATVs, and even boats.

To get started: Click Here
or call 844-790-GIVE (4483) to speak to a representative.

All that you will need to provide is the Certificate of Title upon pickup of your donated vehicle.

Ticket Donations

Thank you for considering the Maritime Museum of San Diego as an item for your fundraising event. We take pride in our support of local nonprofit organizations for such events benefiting our San Diego community. As a nonprofit organization we reviewed the large number of tickets we donate and found the need to re-evaluate the criteria we use for ticket donation selection.


  • You must be located within San Diego County.
  • Your organization must be a nonprofit and will be using Maritime Museum of San Diego tickets as a fundraising item.
  • Four general admission tickets are provided per conforming organization and/or event, and are limited to (1) one request per year. Please avoid submitting multiple requests, including mailed submissions, to avoid duplications.
  • Donated admission tickets are limited to the value of General Admission only and are not valid to use for special events, exhibit surcharges, or any event deemed exempt by the Maritime Museum of San Diego.
  • Value of ticket donations are subject to change at the sole discretion of the Maritime Museum of San Diego.
  • No cash value is applicable for donated tickets although they are fully transferable.
  • The Maritime Museum of San Diego requests that any organization that receives donated tickets place an acknowledgment within any marketing materials or programs that support the event.

CLICK HERE to request a donation.

Join in the adventure! The Maritime Museum of San Diego is home to the maritime story of the West Coast and beyond with one of the most extensive collections of historic ships in the world. Donations & membership helps to tell the maritime story and to preserve these ships.

Every single gift matters. Taken in the aggregate, all gifts, large and small, are essential to the overall goal. So join us at whatever level you can.

Federal ID # 95-2130325

“Ships are the nearest things to dreams that hands have ever made, for somewhere deep in their oaken hearts the soul of a song is laid.”
– Robert N. Rose

To learn more about the many opportunities to contribute to the Maritime Museum. Contact Development at 619-234-9153 x 126
or click here to send email.

Our Mission Statement
The mission of the Maritime Museum of San Diego is to serve as the community memory of our seafaring experience by collecting, preserving, and presenting our rich maritime heritage and historic connections with the Pacific world.