Current Exhibits

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Exploring the Magic of Photography: Painting with Light

First Major Exhibition of Penobscot Marine Museum’s Photography Collection Opening in 2015
May 23 through October 18, 2015

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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.

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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 (www.mainephotoproject.org), 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.

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Kids, Cameras, and Post-war Waterfronts

The Penobscot Marine Museum will exhibit photographs from their collection at the Camden Public Library during April’s “Maritime Month” celebration. “Kids, Cameras, and Post-war Waterfronts” is a a collection of photographs taken by Don Merchant and Maynard Bray in the late 1940s along the waterfront in Rockland and other midcoast towns. The photos will be an display all month; Matt Wheeler of the Penobscot Marine Museum, Maynard Bray, and Don Merchant will give a gallery talk and slide show with photos and commentary through time and the Midcoast on Tuesday evening, April 7, at 7:00 pm. All are welcome!

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Don Merchant and Maynard Bray, both born in Rockland two days apart, became fast friends when the sixth grade brought them together again. Boats became their shared passion, and each went on to make a career of things maritime—Don by shipping as an engineer (worldwide with Isthmian Lines, then locally with the Maine State Ferry Service) after his Maine Maritime Academy education, followed by establishing Merchant’s Landing on Spruce Head Island with his wife, Sally; Maynard, first in shipbuilding as a marine engineer, then with Mystic Seaport, and finally as an editor, writer, and boatbuilder in Brooklin.

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Don’s interest in picture taking came from his stepfather, Sid Cullen, who was the Courier- Gazette’s staff photographer (and, ultimately, its owner). Maynard’s interest came from that same source as well as from his cousin Elmer Montgomery whose collection of photos, like Don’s and Maynard’s, is now at Penobscot Marine Museum.

Don’s camera was a Kodak Duoflex and Maynard’s was (mostly) his mother’s folding Jiffy Kodak. They processed their own films and printed their own pictures. Although they still take photos and always have, those shown here cover only the post-war years from 1946 to 1949 when Don and Maynard considered local waterfronts their playground.

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

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A huge walk-in camera 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, celebrating the work of two of Maine’s boat building families.

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 (www.mainephotoproject.org), 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.