Historic Photography Exhibit of Washington County Opens in Eastport

Generously sponsored in part by National Endowment for the Arts.

Penobscot Marine Museum’s historic photography exhibit Washington County Through Eastern’s Eye is now on view at the Eastport Art Center in Eastport, Maine.   The exhibit of photographs from the museum’s Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company collection is a collaboration between the Penobscot Marine Museum and the various historical societies and historians of Washington County.  It features thirty-three historic photographs taken throughout Washington County from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries, and it has been travelling throughout the county since February of 2013.

Ships at Anchor, Eastport, Maine, courtesy Penobscot Marine Museum

Ships at Anchor, Eastport, Maine, courtesy Penobscot Marine Museum

“This exhibit sparks a pride of place and an interest in local history when it comes to a town,” says Kevin Johnson, Penobscot Marine Museum’s Photography Archivist.  “Our volunteer, Liz Fitzsimmons, worked closely with individuals and historical societies from virtually every community in Washington County community to research these photographs.”  An online exhibit on the museum’s website www.penobscotmarinemuseum.org includes many additional images.   The exhibit is also online on the Maine Memory Network.

The photographs in Washington County Through Eastern’s Eye are of places people loved.  A century ago the founder of Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company sent his crews with their box cameras into tiny towns telling them to ask local citizens what they should photograph, what was important to them about their town.   This makes the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company photos aesthetically beautiful and historically important.

The Eastern collection is the largest single photographic collection in Maine, consisting of early 50,000 images of Maine and the rest of New England and upstate New York. Most of the photos are on glass-plate negatives.   The Penobscot Marine Museum is raising funds to acquire more of Eastern’s negatives, and has recently added a searchable database online to their website which includes nearly 30,000 Eastern Illustrating photographs. Photo prints are available from the museum, with proceeds from their sale going to expand the collection.

Washington County Through Eastern’s Eye will be at the Eastport Art Center through July 7, 2014.  The Eastport Art Center is at 36 Washington Street, Eastport, Maine 04631.  For more information call 207-853-4650, email eastportarts@gmail.com or go to www.eastportartscenter.com.  Gallery hours are 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, Tuesday through Saturday or by chance when the building is open.  The exhibit was funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts and is part of four county exhibits the Penobscot Marine Museum will produce.