Kalmar Nyckel Foundation


The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation is a charitable, educational organization established in 1989. It is responsible for building the Tall Ship of Delaware and its ownership and operation as a cultural and maritime heritage resource. The ship and the foundation are significant for education and community growth in Delaware. Read more.

The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation (KNF) is a non-profit educational group that wants students and other visitors to learn more about Delaware’s maritime and cultural history and its long-standing ties to Sweden and Finland. The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation (KNF) uses only volunteer work to build, repair, and sail the Kalmar Nyckel. The ship’s homeport is Wilmington, Delaware. The ship is used as a mobile classroom and a place to get people excited about learning. More than 30,000 individuals take part in the ship’s educational activities.

The Kalmar Nyckel, which has called Delaware home since its launch in 1997, is Delaware’s official tall ship and a well-known symbol of the state.Their ship is a driver of social, academic, and economic growth in Delaware and beyond.

KNF is an educational organization that does not profit from its activities and provides people with a wide range of backgrounds and ages recreational and educational opportunities on land and in the water. Each season, they travel from Virginia to New England. Still, the ship they use today is docked at the beautiful city of Wilmington’s famed riverfront, the Copeland Maritime Center campus. The original ship’s landing site at “The Rocks” in 1638 and Fort Christina National Historic Landmark are 200 yards from this location.

Construction & Swedish Service

One of the famous ships of the American colonial period was the Kalmar Nyckel. Kalmar Nyckel, a typical Dutch pinnace (Pinas) of around 300 tons and 100 feet on a deck constructed in Amsterdam in 1627, was one of a few thousand such little warships and gun-armed merchantmen built by the Dutch during this time.

She was acquired by the Swedish Skeppskompaniet (ship company) in 1629 and given the new name Kalmar Nyckel (“Key of Kalmar”) using tax money from the important harbor city of Kalmar on Sweden’s southeast coast.

She operated as an auxiliary vessel for the Swedish Navy until 1651, when she wasn’t doing colonial expeditions for the New Sweden Company. She took part in the renowned invasion fleet led by Gustav II Adolf in 1630 at Peenemünde on the Pomeranian coast of Germany, which signaled Sweden’s entrance into the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48).

She is listed in Swedish Admiralty records from 1634 as having a crew of 55 people and 12 six-pounder guns, presumably representative of her combat power. She experienced terrible combat in Torstenson’s War against the Danes in 1645. After her service, she ferried Swedish officials across the Baltic during talks that led to the 1648 Peace of Westphalia.


The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation’s mission is to protect and promote the maritime and cultural history of Delaware and the Delaware Valley to educate the general public and enrich their lives.


To deliver a superior marine and cultural experience and destination for everybody.


Virtual Field Trips

Learn about the thrill of sailing a traditional wooden ship over the vast Atlantic Ocean. This exciting period of history is brought to life via their Virtual Field Trip program, a curriculum-based, interactive program that engages participants. More than 1,300 students from more than two dozen schools participated in their virtual programs in 2020.

Discover the inner workings of a real ship, from the soaring masts to the rumbling engine rooms below! They can take your class to areas of the boat that are seldom seen or are even more challenging to access, thanks to the wonders of virtual reality applications.

Find out why early pioneers risked the treacherous Atlantic voyage to bring the first Kalmar Nyckel to Delaware, and discover what transpired in this area of the Delaware Valley during those significant early days in the history of the United States.

What kind of interactions did the Swedes have with the indigenous Leni Lenape people? How can the wind propel a ship with 300 tons of sails? What did the first ship’s crew members eat, how did they sleep, and how did they survive? Use a Virtual Field Trip to learn more, answer your questions, and have a truly unique educational experience.

Field Trips

Students have the opportunity to participate in educational activities that are both fascinating and memorable at their maritime center and ship, both of which have won awards. An excellent teaching resource, the Kalmar Nyckel is a full-size reproduction of the colonial ship that carried European immigrants to the Delaware Valley in 1638. This ship was the Kalmar Nyckel.

Students travel through time to learn about Delaware’s rich maritime and colonial history. Their hands-on history curriculum includes an educational sail aboard the ship and interactive learning on Their shipyard grounds. Together, these two components round out the program.

  • Programs offered at the ship and marine center’s campus typically run 4 hours and may accommodate classes of up to 86 individuals.
  • The experience features four interactive stations on land and 3 “underway” stations aboard the ship.
  • The STEM room has tables where students can eat their packed lunches or use their picnic area.
  • Participants realize how fun and engaging learning can be.

Program Options

  • The Copeland Maritime Center and the outdoor shipyard site are great places to remain on land and experience their unique learning stations.
  • Programs may be delivered in several forms and customized to match your group’s academic and age-appropriate demands.

Classroom Programs

Their classroom programs, which range from Starting A Colony to Five Ways to Freedom and personalized classes, are intended to interest and engage students of all ages. Discover® has kindly financed Starting A Colony and made it accessible for free. Additionally, they have teamed up with the Delaware Department of Education to provide curricular modules for grades 4, 5, and 12.

Teacher Resources

The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation has created instructional resources for both traditional classroom and online learning contexts. Explore their free video collection and digital resources for more information on how their history and stories might serve to reinforce and enrich your teachings.

Community Programs

They provide various possibilities for families and learners of all ages, from yearly festivals to outreach initiatives around the area. They are constantly looking to collaborate with groups that support youngsters, and their objective is to educate them.

Scouting Programs

Right in the middle of Wilmington, the Kalmar Nyckel Shipyard is an excellent place for scout troops looking for challenging and exciting content in the great outdoors. Let us take your group out on the water or organize an activity at their shipyard campus. Check this out.

For more information, visit their website or call them at (302)429-7447

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