What is the Half Moon and New Netherland Museum?

Moving under full sail, the Half Moon basks in the rosy glow of the setting sun.

The Half Moon is a full scale replica of the original Dutch ship of exploration sailed by Henry Hudson for the Dutch East India Company in 1609. The original Half Moon was the first European ship to document entry into what we now call the Delaware Bay and River, and to explore the Hudson River to its navigable limits.

Reports from this extraordinary voyage led Dutch traders to establish trade within the Hudson River Valley, erecting Fort Nassau at the present day site of Albany, NY. By the mid 1620s New Netherland, as this trading colony became known, extended outward from the Hudson River Valley eastward to the Connecticut River, and south to the Delaware River.

The New Netherland Museum is the non-profit, educational institution that owns and operates the Half Moon as a traveling museum dedicated to public education about life in New Netherland during the 17th century. Long range plans call for the development of a land-based living history site in association with a permanent berth for the Half Moon. The New Netherland Museum is supported financially by memberships, individual and corporate donations, and by financially supportive hosts who invite the Half Moon to appearances throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

Visitors to the Half Moon step into a full-scale time machine. Once aboard the ship, the visitor sees and feels the experience of life aboard ship 400 years ago. Dressed with accurate flags, sea chests, navigational instruments, and tools of the marine trade, Hudson himself could step aboard and feel right at home.

The ship accurately reflects the colors and designs of the Dutch East India Company ships from the early 17th century, and crew members are often dressed in clothing typical of sailors from this period.

The Half Moon is fully operational, and has sailed as far as Lake Michigan and south to North Carolina. Most of its time is spent operating in the historic waters of New Netherland, with extensive operations on the Hudson River and extending outward to the Delaware River and Bay and to the Connecticut River.

Hidden within the ship is the gear necessary to modern operations, including a Diesel engine, electric generator, sewage and fresh water holding tanks, and modern navigational equipment. However, the ship frequently operates in the traditional manner under sail alone.

Volunteer crew members receive training dockside and underway, and range in age from their teens to octogenarians. There is a productive role for anyone interested, whether working on the ship or in the office.

New Netherland Museum