Current Exhibits

Penobscot Marine Museum member special offer!


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Bring your valid PMM membership card and receive free admission from Monday, March 30 through Sunday, April 5 to the Portland Museum of Art’s exhibit The Coast & the Sea: Marine and Maritime Art in America. Not a member? Join online or call us at 207-548-2529 ext.221.

Individual members will receive one free adult admission and Dual/Family or higher levels will be entitled to free admission for two adults, along with accompanying children under the age of 18. Benefits will not include member discounts in the PMA Store, PMA Café, or on any ticketed education programs or events that maybe taking place that week.

About the exhibit:

The Coast & the Sea: Marine and Maritime Art in America is on view at the Portland Museum of Art January 30, 2015 through April 26, 2015. Organized by the New-York Historical Society, The Coast & the Sea features 52 marine paintings and 10 maritime artifacts from New-York Historical Society’s large and impressive collection.

The Coast & the Sea explores the rich visual traditions of marine and maritime art through a diverse selection of paintings and objects that range in date from 1750 to 1904. For example, early 19th-century seascapes by Thomas Birch, who was considered the country’s first specialist in marine paintings, trace the adaptation of Anglo-Dutch painting conventions to an American context. Other highlights include spirited paintings of famous sea battles that celebrate the heroic feats of the U.S. Navy, and romanticized portrayals of ships in storms that symbolize life’s trials and the vicissitudes of nature.

 Image: Junius Brutus Stearns (United States, 1810-1885), Fishing in a Catboat in Great South Bay, 1871, oil on canvas, 29 x 39 1/4 inches. New-York Historical Society, Gift of C. Otto von Kienbusch, 1964.21

Image: Junius Brutus Stearns (United States, 1810-1885), Fishing in a Catboat in Great South Bay, 1871, oil on canvas, 29 x 39 1/4 inches. New-York Historical Society, Gift of C. Otto von Kienbusch, 1964.21

There are portraits of esteemed merchants, mariners, and naval heroes, as well as of notable crafts, including the legendary naval frigate the USS Constitution (known as “Old Ironsides”). Views of bustling harbors and scenic sites along the water by leading landscape artists of the day—such as Samuel Colman, Sanford Gifford, John Frederick Kensett, and Francis Augustus Silva—showcase American waterways as a source of aesthetic inspiration, economic growth, and leisure activities. The global reach of American maritime activities is exemplified in a rare 19th-century painting by an unidentified Chinese artist, portraying the harbor of Canton.

Maritime artifacts such as an elaborately engraved whale’s tooth scrimshaw from the mid-19th century, a mariner’s octant from 1840, and a handsome silver presentation tureen commemorating acts of bravery during the War of 1812 provide additional historical context for understanding the visual and material culture of seafaring life in the United States.

For more information, click here.

First Major Exhibition of Penobscot Marine Museum’s Photography Collection Opening in 2015

May 23 through October 18, 2015


In 2007 a group of 35,000 historic glass plate negatives and photographs were rescued from a flood by Kevin Johnson. Johnson then brought them to Penobscot Marine Museum for preservation, and become the museum’s Photography Archivist. Since then tens of thousands of negatives, prints, slides, postcards and daguerreotypes of images taken around the world have poured into the collection, making Penobscot Marine Museum’s historical photography collection one of the largest and most comprehensive in New England. Exploring the Magic of Photography: Painting with Light is the museum’s first major exhibition utilizing this photography collection. The exhibit will open at Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, Maine on May 23 and continue through October 18, 2015.


Exploring the Magic of Photography: Painting with Light is a campus-wide installation of multiple inter-active exhibits: a “selfie” wall on which visitors can post their “selfie” taken in the museum; a room-sized walk-in camera obscura in which visitors can experience firsthand how light traveling through a lens creates an image; a replica of an early 20th century darkroom complete with a glass plate negative enlarger; Through Her Lens: Women Photographers of Mid-Coast Maine, 1890-1920: an exhibit exploring the work of five women photographers; Twenty Best, the twenty most fascinating photographs in the collection, with an audio tour; 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, celebrating the uniquely Maine way of life and work of two of Maine’s boat building families. Exhibition events include a film screening of The Maine Frontier: Through The Lens Of Isaac Walton Simpson with a companion multimedia presentation by filmmaker Sumner McKane; cyanotype-making workshops; pin-hole camera making workshops; tin-type demonstrations; and backdrops enabling 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, beginning in January 2015. 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.

Through Her Lens: Women Photographers of Mid-Coast Maine, 1890-1920 is supported by a grant from the Maine Humanities Foundation.