Maine Authors Celebrate Christmas at Penobscot Marine Museum

One Maine Christmas Eve author Douglas Coffin with his daughter

One Maine Christmas Eve author Douglas Coffin with his daughter

On Friday, December 4th, Penobscot Marine Museum will host five Maine authors and an illustrator, as part of the Town of Searsport’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting.   Maine authors Ardeana Hamlin, Douglas Coffin, Mac Smith, Mark Scott Ricketts, Mark Warner, and illustrator Russ Cox will be on hand to discuss their books, which will be available in the Museum Store.  On display in the Store will be the red velvet dress designed by Edith Head for the 1954 movie White Christmas, and Victorian and nautical-themed Christmas Gingerbread scenes.  Refreshments will be served.  At the same time Penobscot Marine Museum Sea Captain’s house will be open to the public, with each room decorated for a Victorian Christmas. The Museum Store is on the Crescent at 2 Church Street, the Sea Captain’s house is across the street. The Maine authors will be in the Museum Store from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Searsport’s Christmas Tree will be lit on the Crescent at 5:30 pm with refreshments and carol singing.   Admission is free for all events.

Abbott’s Reach by Ardeana Hamlin

Abbott’s Reach by Ardeana Hamlin

Ardeana Hamlin’s life is steeped in Maine history.  She grew up in Bingham, Maine with family tales of logging in the Maine woods.  Hamlin worked for 14 years at the Bangor Daily News, and now lives in Hampden.  Abbott’s Reach, her historical novel set in 19th century Maine, tells the tale of a young woman setting sail on her honeymoon voyage with her sea captain husband.  The Havener Sisters, also set in the 19th century, chronicles the adventures of three Maine women who by necessity reinvent their lives.

Douglas Coffin lives in Stockton Springs and hand-carves letters and decorative motifs in stone for architects and individuals.  He wrote and illustrated the delightful children’s book about Santa in Maine, One Maine Christmas Eve.

Mac Smith, also a resident of Stockton Springs, is a Navy veteran of the first Gulf War and former news reporter for The Bar Harbor TimesMainers on the Titanic tells the fascinating personal histories of passengers on that ill-fated ship who had ties to Maine.

Mark Scott Ricketts is a Maine-based Arkansas-born illustrator who has authored several Iron Man comics.  A Flatlander’s Guide to Maine is a charming and funny, finely-illustrated, educational guidebook.  The children’s book Adventures in Vacationland is the story of a young boy who takes his family on a wild adventure through the wilds of Maine to rescue his favorite Aunt.

Vinalhaven native Mark Warner grew up hearing stories about the wreck of the ship Royal Tar.  His book The Tragedy of the Royal Tar: Maine’s 1836 Circus Steamboat Disaster explores the events leading up to the famous ship wreck, beginning with the construction of Royal Tar, the tracing the circus’s tour of the Maritimes, the cause of the fire, and details of the rescue operation.

Russ Cox illustrated award-winning children’s book author Lynn Plourde’s very funny Merry Moosey Christmas, a story of Rudolf the famous red-nosed reindeer.

For a complete schedule of weekend events or for more information click here or call the Visitors Center 207-548-0334 or Administrative Offices at 207-548-2529.

Oldest Film Shot in Maine to be Shown at Penobscot Marine Museum’s Annual History Conference

Self-portrait, Peggy McKenna (1947 – 2014)

Self-portrait, Peggy McKenna (1947 – 2014)

A clip from the oldest film shot in Maine will be shown during Wish You Were Here: Communicating Maine’s Unique Sense of Place, Penobscot Marine Museum’s 2015 History Conference.  The Conference this year brings together Northeast Historic Film, Maine Folklife Center, and historians and writers Jay Davis, David Andrews, William Bunting and Kevin Johnson to discuss Maine’s unusual sense of place and how it has been communicated, preserved or changed over the last one hundred years.

The oldest known film taken in Maine was shot in 1901, and a clip of this historic film will be shown by Northeast Historic Film’s new Executive Director Brook Minner in her talk onpreserving Maine’s moving image history.  Maine Folklife Center’s Katrina Wynn will present audio clips of stories told by Mainers on topics ranging from logging to Wabanaki culture, and discuss how preserving Maine’s oral histories adds to its sense of place.

The vibrant photographic portrait of Maine created by Peggy McKenna (1947 – 2014) in her work for Down East, Waldo Independent, and Republican Journal will be discussed by former newspaper editor Jay Davis.  For more information on the History Conference or to purchase tickets, go to or call 548-2529.  Wish You Were Here: Communicating Maine’s Unique Sense of Place will be held at University of Maine’s Hutchinson Center in Belfast, Maine on Saturday, October 24, 8:00 am to 2:30 pm.


Penobscot Marine Museum 2015 History Conference

History Conference 15Cover-620

Penobscot Marine Museum
2015 History Conference

Wish You Were Here: Communicating Maine’s Unique Sense of Place
Saturday October 24, 2015
8:00 am to 2:30pm
University of Maine Hutchinson Center
80 Belmont Avenue
Belfast, Maine

For tickets click here.

or call 207-548-0334 or 548-2529.


8:00 to 8:45 am Registration

9:00 to 9:30 am
Northeast Historic Film: Preserving Maine’s Sense of Place in Moving Images

Brook Minner is Executive Director of Northeast Historic Film.

Showing short clips, including the oldest known film shot in Maine (1901) and the 1919 launching of a four-masted schooner built in Harrington, Maine, Ms. Minner will illustrate the ways in which preserving Maine’s moving image history preserves and strengthens Maine’s sense of place.

9:45 to 10:15 am
Memories Create a Sense of Place: The Maine Folklife Center’s Role

Katrina Wynn is Archives Manager at Maine Folklife Center at University of Maine.

Using examples from its collection, Katrina Wynn will talk about the Maine Folklife Center and how it helps preserve and define Maine’s cultural history and sense of place.  With a vast collection of oral histories and documents, the Maine Folklife Center preserves a treasure trove of local and regional cultural history on topics ranging from logging to Wabanaki culture. 

10:30 to 11:00 am
Post Cards and Town History: Telling the Story of South Bristol with Post Cards

Dave Andrews has been the historian of the South Bristol Historical Society since its creation in 1996.

Postcards can be a great tool for discovering otherwise forgotten history. Dave Andrews will share his extensive experience in creating, managing and using his own post card collection to research South Bristol history. His postcard collection has figured prominently in many of the activities of mid-coast Maine history groups.

11:15 to 11:45 am
Glass Plate Maine: Early 20th Century Images from the Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Company

William H. Bunting is the author of A Day’s Work: A Sampler of Historic Maine Photographs 1860-1920 Part I & II. Kevin Johnson is the Penobscot Marine Museum Photo Archivist.

Kevin Johnson and Bill Bunting will show photos from Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company, the largest manufacturer of real-photo postcards in the United States, and discuss what these photos reveal about Mainers’ own sense of place and identity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Earle Shettleworth Jr., William H. Bunting and Kevin Johnson are working on a book celebrating the extraordinary legacy and photographs of the company.

12:00 am to 12:45 pm – LUNCH

1:00 to 1:30 pm
Making a Storymap to Define “Place”

Margaret Chernosky, of Maine Geographic Alliance, brought a variety of GIS software to the teaching of geography at Bangor High School.

Chernosky demonstrates the construction of a storymap which defines Maine’s sense of place by using the iconic images, ranging from the County to the coast, from vintage postcards.

1:45 to 2:15 pm
Maine in Her Heart: the Photography of Margaret “Peggy ” McKenna from 1971 to 2013

Jay Davis is the author of History of Belfast in the 20th Century, and has been the editor of the Republican Journal, Waldo Independent, and Maine Times.

Peggy McKenna (1947 – 2014) was a professional photographer whose remarkable photos captured the essence of and endeared her to the hearts of her subjects. Over the years she photographed thousands of people for Down East, Waldo Independent, and Republican Journal, creating an astounding and vibrant photographic portrait of the place that is Midcoast Maine.

Lunch is included.

Download History Conference Brochure

camera obscura mock-up-square-thumbnail

Gigantic Walk-in Camera Planned for Penobscot Marine Museum’s 2015 Season

camera obscura mock-up

A huge walk-in camera, designed by John Bielenberg and built by John Bielenberg and Richard Mann, is one of the many inter-active exhibits planned By Penobscot Marine Museum for this summer’s Exploring the Magic of Photography: Painting with Light.  This is the first major exhibition to feature the museum’s extensive historic photography collection of over 140,000 negatives, prints, slides, postcards and daguerreotypes.

The camera obscura is the precursor of our modern camera.  Its principles were used by the ancient Greeks to observe solar eclipses.  Inside the museum’s camera obscura, light sensitive paper will be available for visitors to take their own “photographs” from the projected image, and paper and pencils will be available for sketching the image, a technique used Leonardo da Vinci in the Renaissance.

PMM’s camera obscura; Horse in Winter, Round Image

PMM’s camera obscura; Horse in Winter, Round Image

Other exhibits in Exploring the Magic of Photography: Painting with Light include Museum Selfies taken by museum visitors; Visit an Antique Darkroom complete with a glass plate negative enlarger; Through Her Lens: Women Photographers of Mid-Coast Maine, 1890-1920; Twenty Best featuring the most fascinating photographs in the collection; Evolution of the Photographic Snapshot: 1888-2015, curated by retired photography professor Michael Simon; The Carters and the Lukes – Selections from the Red Boutilier Collection is an intimate portrait of two families of boat builders, one who built traditional wooden lobster boats for local fishermen and the other an innovator in the custom yacht business. These photographs, taken during the 1960’s and 1970’s, celebrate the uniquely Maine way of life of the Luke family in East Boothbay and the Carter family in Waldoboro. Photographer Red Boutilier captured an era in Maine boat building which set the standards for today’s Maine boat builders’ international reputation for excellence.

Included in the museum’s events will be a screening of the film The Maine Frontier: Through The Lens Of Isaac Walton Simpson.  Isaac Walton Simpson was a blacksmith, barber, musician, woodsman, mechanic, and father of thirteen children.  This live multimedia presentation uses film, Simpson’s photographs, oral histories and live music to illustrate the pioneering frontier culture of northern Maine at the turn-of-the-century, a pivotal time in Maine’s history.

Anonymous; Boy with Oranges, Buenos Aires, c. 1895-1916

Anonymous; Boy with Oranges, Buenos Aires, c. 1895-1916

Visitors to Exploring the Magic of Photography: Painting with Light will be able to take cyanotype-making workshops; pin-hole camera-making workshops; to see tin-type demonstrations and to have their own tin-type made.  Life-sized photographic backdrops in several exhibits will encourage visitors to take photographs of themselves “inside” historic photographs.

Exploring the Magic of Photography: Painting with Light is part of the Maine Photo Project (, a year-long statewide celebration of photography in Maine.  This collaboration of twenty-six cultural organizations will offer exhibitions, a major publication, and a variety of programs exploring the state’s role as inspiration for photographers.

The Maine Frontier: Through The Lens Of Isaac Walton Simpson is made possible by a grant from the Maine Humanities Council and the Maine Arts Commission.  Through Her Lens: Women Photographers of Mid-Coast Maine, 1890-1920 is made possible by a grant from the Maine Humanities Council.

Exploring the Magic of Photography: Painting with Light opens at Penobscot Marine Museum on May 23, 2015 and continues through October 18, 2015.   The Maine Frontier: Through The Lens Of Isaac Walton Simpson will be shown on Thursday, August 13, 7 p.m.

Maine Lobster Boat Builders Discuss Their Boats At Penobscot Marine Museum Boat Builders’ Forum

In preparation for the Maine lobster boat racing season the Maine Boatbuilding Forum will host boat builders Travis and Keith Otis, Glenn Holland, Stewart Workman and Calvin Beal, who will debate the qualities that make the very best and fastest lobster boats.  This month’s forum is at Penobscot Marine Museum’s Main Street Gallery on Thursday, June 12, at 7:00 pm.

Lobster Boat Races, Friendship, Maine, courtesy Jon Johansen

Lobster Boat Races, Friendship, Maine, courtesy Jon Johansen

Keith Otis grew up in Maine, joined the Air Force Strategic Air Command then later re-enlisted in the Army’s 1st Calvary Division (Airmobile) where he worked on fire control systems for attack helicopters in Vietnam.   He started Otis Enterprises Marine in Searsport in 1979.  Keith’s son Travis grew up with sandpaper in his hand, helping his dad.  Otis Enterprises Marine has produced over ninety boats, ranging from modest lobster boats to top of the line luxury sportfish boats.  Travis Otis is Vice President of the Maine Lobsterboat Racing Association.

Glenn Holland, of Holland’s Boat Shop in Belfast, started building boats in 1972 with an unfinished Repco hull which he finished in a temporary building on his parent’s front lawn.  Glenn eventually partnered with Royal Lowell and together they designed the Holland 32 which went into production in 1978.   Holland’s Boat Shop is home of the racing lobsterboat “Red Baron”, which won the title “World’s Fastest Lobster Boat” in 2000, and has won over 100 trophies.

Stewart Workman’s father was a lobster boat owner, and Stewart ran his own boat and pulled lobsters out of the water starting in junior high school.  He was in the Coast Guard in Alaska but returned to Maine to focus on schooner and passenger boat restorations, a deep- sea fishing business, and being a yacht captain.  SW Boatworks was founded by Capt. Stewart Workman in 2000.

Calvin Beal started working in and around boat shops as a young boy, helping the old time boat builders of Beals build their boats.  In 1969 Calvin built his own wooden, 22′ lobster boat, then he built a 35′ wooden boat named the Octavia A for his father-in-law.  Calvin worked on wooden boats and plugs until he built his own molds for fiberglass boats in the late ’90s.  After building one hundred and twenty-five boats, Calvin sold the molds to SW Boatworks in Lamoine.

The Maine Lobster Boat Races start on June 14th in Boothbay Harbor.  For a schedule of the races, go to “Fans of Maine Lobster Boat Racing” Facebook page.

The Maine Boatbuilding Forum is moderated by Jon Johansen of Maine Coastal News, and is held at Penobscot Marine Museum’s Main Street Gallery, Route One, Searsport, Maine.  Tickets are $8 members and $10 non-members.  For more information go to or call 207-548-2529 or 0334.

To view calendar listing, click here.

Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors Founder and Editor to be Honored at Penobscot Marine Museum’s Gala & Auction

On July 19, Penobscot Marine Museum’s biennial Gala & Auction fundraiser will honor John K. Hanson, Jr. founder and publisher of Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors magazine, and Polly Saltonstall, editor in chief of Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors. Polly and John are also both longtime friends and supporters of the museum. The Gala & Auction will be held at Point Lookout Resort in Northport at 5:30 pm.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity this year to celebrate and honor John and Polly. They have both passionately promote and have made enormous contributions to Maine’s rich maritime culture,” said the museum’s Executive Director Liz Lodge.

artwork in PMM’s Gala & Auction

Artwork in PMM’s Gala & Auction

Penobscot Marine Museum’s biennial Gala & Auction fundraiser provides support for a diverse array of exhibitions, programs and educational initiatives, all celebrating the maritime heritage of the Penobscot Bay region and beyond. This season alone the museum hosts seven new exhibits and over fifty events.

The Gala & Auction begins at 5:30 p.m. with cocktails and a silent auction in Point Lookout’s open-air pavilion, and progresses to Erikson Hall at 7:00 p.m. for dinner, a live auction, and dancing with live music from the band Interplay. Items in the auction include small water craft, hotel overnights, paintings, a mink coat, and theater tickets.

Sponsorships and tickets to the auction are available, and the museum is accepting auction donations. For more information go online or call 207-548-2529.

Purchase tickets online or BID ONLINE NOW!

Penobscot Marine Museum, 40 East Main Street, Searsport, is open for the 2014 season from Saturday, May 24 through Sunday, October 19, Monday through Saturday, 10am to 5pm, and Sunday noon to 5:00 pm.

Jewelry in PMM’s Gala & Auction

Jewelry in PMM’s Gala & Auction

Author Kate Webber Discusses Life on Swans Island

Penobscot Marine Museum will host author Kate Webber discussing her new book Swans Island Chronicles: Borrowed, Exaggerated and Half-Forgotten Tales of Island Life on Saturday, June 7, at 2:00 pm. Books will be available for signing, and the event will take place in the Penobscot Marine Museum Store, 40 East Main Street, Searsport. Admission is free.

Kate Webber worked through the Island Institute for the Swan’s Island Historical Society for two years and experienced the delights of living on a small isolated Maine island first hand. She tells her stories about the people and island culture with humor and affection. Local legends and spooky tales are included for the reader’s delight. Ms. Webber is now with the Maine Humanities Council.

Left: Swans Island Chronicles: Borrowed, Exaggerated and Half-Forgotten Tales of Island Life by Kate Webber. Right: Author Kate Webber

Left: Swans Island Chronicles: Borrowed, Exaggerated and Half-Forgotten Tales of Island Life by Kate Webber. Right: Author Kate Webber

For more information go online or call 207-548-2529. Penobscot Marine Museum is hosting seven exhibits and over fifty events this season.

Penobscot Marine Museum, 40 East Main Street, Searsport, is open for the 2014 season from Saturday, May 24 through Sunday, October 19, Monday through Saturday, 10am to 5pm, and Sunday noon to 5:00 pm.

Merchant Marine Oral History Interview Day to be Held at Penobscot Marine Museum

usmerchant-marine-sealThe Penobscot Marine Museum is partnering with the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) to host a day of oral history interviews with merchant mariners on June 24, 2014, from 10-4. During this event, mariners will be invited to come to the museum to record their stories with SCI researchers and volunteers as part of the American Merchant Marine Veterans Oral History Project. Photo archivists at the museum will also be gathering feedback from mariners on their photo collections. The Penobscot Marine Museum will be offering reduced admission for mariners on the day of the interviews ($6). The interviews will be archived and made available as a robust online repository of stories of the sea.

Merchant mariners have contributed significantly to the security and prosperity of the nation–the online archive created by this project brings the compelling stories of local seafarers to light. Johnathan Thayer, SCI Archivist and leader of the project, has interviewed veteran mariners in the Port of New York and New Jersey. “Their remarkable tales represent largely overlooked perspectives within American history,” he says. Johnathan recounts the story of John Ludwick, also known as “Kansas,” who, although he survived the crossing of dangerous WWII North Atlantic waters in a convoy that lost 17 of 33 ships, found himself mistakenly imprisoned in a camp at Leningrad. He tells the story of his escape, stealing a Russian snowmobile and riding it hundreds of miles through arctic tundra back to his ship.

Toiling on board ships often months at a time, merchant mariners work out of the public eye, but SCI—since its very beginnings—has endeavored to bring their labors to light. Through its American Merchant Marine Veterans Oral History Project, SCI helps mariners gain recognition and dignity in the historic record through their own words and Mariners interested in participating should RSVP to Maine-based SCI researcher Michele Christle at or at 603-781-9848 to schedule a time for an interview. If transportation or health is an issue, mariners are encouraged to contact Michele Christle for alternative participation methods.

For more information about this event, please contact: Michele Christle, 603-781-9848


Fish, Wind and Tide: Art and Technology of Maine’s Resources

Saturday, May 24 through Sunday, October 19
Opening reception Friday, May 23, 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm at Penobscot Marine Museum’s Main Street Gallery, 40 East Main Street


Photo by Maynard Bray

Using interactive displays and photographs, Fish, Wind and Tide: Art and Technology of Maine’s Resources explores the history of Maine’s fisheries, historic coastal tide mills, and wind powered ships. The exhibit also looks at Maine scientists’ pioneering work in the exciting and sometimes controversial future of these resources. How is modern technology affecting our fisheries? Do wind and tidal power have a place in our future? How do modern technologies impact Maine’s working waterfront, culture, environment, and the state’s largest industry of tourism?


History Chests: Exhibit Designed by the Sophomore Class of Searsport District High School

Saturday, May 24 through Sunday, October 19
Opening Reception Thursday, May 22, 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
This exhibit is in Merithew and Fowler True Ross Houses.

Nine sea captain chests, which contain specific artifacts showing the different aspects of the impact the Penobscot Bay has on the Midcoast region, were assembled and documented by students from the sophomore class of SDHS. The topics include marine art, the granite industry, lumbering, fisheries, the Penobscot Nation, life at sea, navigation, ship building, and Far East trade.