Houston Maritime Center

Houston Maritime Center Logo

Basic Information

Address: 2311 Canal Street, Houston, TX 77003
Phone Number: 713-225-1688
Director: Leslie Bowlin

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Houston Maritime Center
Houston Maritime Center
Houston Maritime Center
Houston Maritime Center

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Additional Information

Days and Hours: By Appointment

The Houston Maritime Center happily provides guided tours of the collections for groups of 7-50 visitors of all ages.

Our volunteer docents are committed to bringing maritime history and industry to life with lively stories and unique insights into our exhibits. The museum is an entirely different experience with each docent. Multiple tours are encouraged!

Please call at least two weeks ahead to schedule a tour for your group: 713-225-1688 or email info@houstonmaritime.org. We can sometimes accommodate last-minute groups. Call for additional information.

As a small organization, we are able to work closely with educators to develop programming that meets their needs.

To start, we encourage groups to take a guided tour of our collections. This will provide you with an overview of maritime history, the modern industry, and Houston's role in current maritime trade.

Other topics can be arranged at the request of educators, as our collections inspire a variety of learning experiences. For example, we have a world-class navigational collection that includes sextants, chronometers, and other navigational aids that help explain topics in Geography, Science, and History. The museum also highlights modern and historic trading vessels that encourage discussions about scientific innovations, the age of exploration, and the modern shipping industry as well as possible careers in the maritime industry. The museum has an equal number of warships on display, from the Age of Sail through World War.

If your class is unable to visit the museum, we may be able to bring a variety of ship models and/or one of our presentations to your classroom. If you have distance learning capabilities at your school you may be able to participate in our Distance Education initiatives.

Grade Levels:
Group Type: All
Disabled Access:

Wheelchair accessable

Program Type:

Houston Maritime Center can cater your visit to your specific age group and current lessons. Some examples of programs include: 

  • The History of Navigation (grades 6+)
  • Christopher Columbus (all ages)
  • Ships in Bottles (grades 3+)
  • Offshore Oil and Gas Industry (grades 9+)
  • World War II (grades 6+)
  • Government and Maritime (grades 6+)
  • Maritime History (all ages)
Admission/Tickets: Group Pricing: Ages 3 - 11: $3 | Ages 12 - 64: $5 | 65+ Free | 1 chaperone ticket included for every 10 students.
Registration: Email info@houstonmaritime.org or call 713-225-1688 to schedule your group.
Food: N/A
Length of Visit: 90 minutes - 2 hours
Student/Staff Ratio: 10:1 (Depending on age)
Max. Group Number: 50
Group Requirements: Minimum of 10 students to qualify for group pricing. We will schedule smaller groups but standard pricing will apply. Standing pricing can be found at houstonmaritime.org.
Return Policy: Cancellation up to 24 hours prior at no cost
Exhibits: Maritime Exploration Ocean Liners Transitioning from Sails to Steam WWII Whaling Oil and Gas History of the Houston Maritime Industry and Buffalo Bayou Houston Ship Channel Ships in Bottles Kids Cove
Gift Shop/Factory Outlet: Merchandise sold on-site. All groups receive a 10% discount on merchandise during their tour.
Amenities: Restrooms, climate control
Videos/DVDs Shown: History of the Texas Navy Triumph Over Nature: Emergency Preparedness During Hurricanes (by request) My Maritime Story: A Collection of Maritime Stories from Industry Professionals (by request)
Reservations Needed: We requested that reservations be made at least 2 weeks prior to your visit, however we are sometimes able to accommodate groups on short notice.

Heading North on 288:

  • Merge onto 69 North.
  • Exit Polk Street.
  • Take the feeder street (Chartres St.) to Franklin Street.
  • Make a slight left onto Navigation Blvd.
  • Turn right to stay on Navigation Blvd.
  • Our building and parking lot will be immediately on your right.

Heading North on I-45:

  • Exit Scott St.
  • Turn left onto Scott Street.
  • Continue onto York St. (Scott St. becomes York St. at Polk St.)
  • Turn left onto Canal Street.
  • Turn right onto Navigation Blvd.
  • Turn right again to stay on Navigation Blvd.
  • Our building and parking lot will be immediately on your right.

Heading South on I-45:

  • Merge onto I10 East.
  • Exit Jensen Dr.
  • Turn right onto Jensen Dr.
  • Cross Buffalo Bayou and turn Left onto Navigation Blvd.
  • Our building and parking lot will be immediately on your right.

Heading East on I-10:

  • Exit Jensen Dr. just after Downtown.
  • Turn right onto Jensen Dr.
  • Cross Buffalo Bayou and turn Left onto Navigation Blvd.
  • Our building and parking lot will be immediately on your right.

Heading West on I-10:

  • Exit 770A towards Downtown
  • Turn left on Ruiz St. (under I-69)
  • Turn left on Chartres St. (I-69 feeder)
  • Turn right on Runnels St.
  • Continue onto Navigation Blvd.
  • Our building and parking lot will be immediately on your right as Runnels turns into Navigation.
Mission Statement:

Minute Maid Park
Discovery Green
Allen's Landing
Sam Houston Park
George R. Brown Convention Center

Philosophy/Belief Statement:


To inspire knowledge of the maritime world


A global center for maritime discovery

Facility History:

Established in 2000, the Houston Maritime Education Center and Museum (HM) is an extension of founder James "Jim" L. Manzolillo's unique experiences, personality, and lifelong association with the ocean. As a naval architect, Manzolillo traveled extensively, collecting artifacts from around the world. He eventually decided to share them with the public, and Houston offered a logical place to do that. Hence, Manzolillo began channeling his resources to create a museum to engage people of all ages in the history of ships and sea exploration.

Jim Manzolillo had a long career, starting as a Merchant Marine during WWII. In 1979, Manzolillo moved to Houston where he worked for Cunard Line giving on board cruise lectures. Calling at most of the world's ports, he frequently visited museums and bought ship models, which he sent home. Having amassed quite a collection of maritime items and realizing Houston did not have a maritime museum; he contacted the Museum of Natural Science about donating his collection. When he failed to receive a response, he thought, "The hell with this, I'll open up my own museum."

When Manzolillo saw a sign on a vacant building on Dorrington Street, the HM's previous location, he called and made a deal for the property that afternoon. He worked tirelessly to restore and enlarge the building and filled it with his personal collection and other artifacts he acquired at this own expense. His daughter, Dr. Deborah Nightingale reminisced, "Some of the things in there were things I played with as a little girl." Although Manzolillo passed away in 2007, the HM remains a tribute to his vision.

The Houston Maritime Center moved from Dorrington Street in 2019, in desperate need of more space. The current museum gallery is located at 2311 Canal Street, a temporary home until a more prominent space can be renovated at East River, fulfilling Jim Mazolillo's dream of having a maritime museum on Buffalo Bayou.