ROCKLAND, Maine — Volunteer Director Dot Black said the Maine Lighthouse Museum had been barely scraping by even before a burst pipe caused considerable damage last month.

The nonprofit museum has now appealed to the public through an online gofundme fundraising effort to allow the organization to open again in mid-March.

“We’ve been scraping to pay the bills,” Black said Friday.

She said both she and volunteer board chairman Paul Dilger have contributed their own money to keep the museum operating. Black said, however, she will not be able to continue to do that despite the ties she has to the museum.

Black’s late husband Ken Black was known as “Mr. Lighthouse.” A retired Coast Guard officer, Ken Black began collecting lighthouse artifacts in 1971 at the station on Tillson Avenue in Rockland. A year later, the collection was moved to the Shore Village Museum on Limerock Street.

About 10 years ago, the city and both museums leased space in a building at 1 Park Drive from MBNA and then Bank of America.

Then, in September 2007, the museums along with the city and the Rockland Festival Corporation purchased the 1 Park Drive building for $505,000. The building is operated through a condominium arrangement with the three parties paying a share of the expenses based on the square footage they occupy. The lighthouse museum occupies the street-level floor and pays the largest share of the costs.

On Jan. 8, a pipe in the heating and cooling system of the lighthouse museum burst and caused considerable damage when the ceiling collapsed and flooded sections of several rooms. The light collection was not damaged.

Insurance covered some of the damage but not all of it. The decision was made to make a plea to the public.

The lighthouse museum is trying to raise $15,000. In the three days since the fundraising effort was launched, $640 has been pledged.

The mission of the Maine Lighthouse Museum is to educate the public regarding the longstanding traditions, heroism and progress of America’s Lighthouse and Lifesaving services and the United States Coast Guard, according to its gofundme page.

Donations also can be made by mail to: Maine Lighthouse Museum, P.O. Box 1116, Rockland, ME 04841.