Past Exhibitions


Photography Exhibit Brings History to Life at Penobscot Marine Museum

(LB1990) CARRIE WINSLOW Crew Taking Up new Topsail, Ruth Montgomery, c. 1895-1916

(LB1990) CARRIE WINSLOW Crew Taking Up new Topsail, Ruth Montgomery, c. 1895-1916

Penobscot Marine Museum opens its 2015 season on May 23 with four major exhibitions of historic photography under the umbrella title Exploring the Magic of Photography: Painting with Light.  The campus will be filled with hands-on activities.  Museum visitors will be able to walk into a huge camera, step inside an historic darkroom, watch a tintype being made, make a cyanotype photograph, make a pin-hole camera, take a photograph with a pin-hole camera, take photographs of themselves standing beside images of people from the 1880’s, add their own photographs to an online museum exhibit, and add their selfies to the museum’s “Wall of Selfies”.  Audio clips of interviews, biographies, and commentaries by historians, curators and professional photographers will be available to visitors on their mobile devices through QR codes, and on tablets in the exhibits.

The four exhibits in Exploring the Magic of Photography are Through Her Lens: Women Photographers of Mid-Coast Maine, 1890-1920; Twenty Best; Evolution of the Photographic Snapshot: 1888-2015; and The Carters and the Lukes – Selections from the Red Boutilier Collection.  On Friday, May 22nd from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm the public is invited to the opening reception for the 2015 season, which will be held in the newly renovated Visitors Center on the Crescent, 2 Church Street, Searsport.

Through Her Lens: Women Photographers of Mid-Coast Maine, 1890-1920 explores the pioneering work of five women photographers who excelled in a field dominated by men.  Ruth Montgomery and Joanna Colcord grew up sailing around the world with their sea captain fathers.  While on board ship they taught themselves the craft of photography and documented life at sea and life in the countries to which they sailed.  Evie Barbour’s photographer husband had a business producing photographic postcards.  She helped him with the business, and when he died in 1907 she was able to take it over and support herself and her children.  Ida Crie photographed her native city of Rockland, creating a loving portrait and important historic document of the way Rockland was at the turn of the century.  Harriet Hitchborn grew up in Stockton Springs and developed her own successful postcard business.

 (R2014) Horse in Winter, Round Image, Anonymous

(R2014) Horse in Winter, Round Image, Anonymous

Twenty Best, an exhibit of the twenty most fascinating photographs in the Penobscot Marine Museum collection, includes a photograph of the Great Bangor Fire of 1911 which destroyed much of the city, the earliest known photograph of Searsport, and an unusual ambrotype circa 1870 of a Chinese steward.  Also included are photographs by the legendary Finnish-American photo-journalist Kosti Rhuohoma, who shot iconic portraits of working Americans which appeared in LIFE, National Geographic and other publications from 1940 to 1960.

Evolution of the Photographic Snapshot: 1888-2015 explores the snapshot as a self-portrait of our culture.   In the 1800’s cameras were expensive and photography was the work of professionals, but when Eastman Kodak introduced the inexpensive Brownie camera in 1900 suddenly everyone had a camera in their hand.  What do we photograph and why, and what do the snapshots we take tell us about ourselves?  This exhibit is guest curated by retired Beloit College 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.

Exploring the Magic of Photography: Painting with Light is part of the Maine Photo Project, a year-long statewide celebration of photography in Maine in 2015.  This collaboration of twenty-six cultural organizations offers exhibitions, a major publication, and a variety of programs exploring the state’s role as inspiration for photographers.

Two additional exhibits round out the 2015 season.  Disorganized and Defeated: The Battle for Penobscot Bay 1779 displays for the first time the Museum’s newly acquired court-martial papers of Commodore Dudley Saltonstall.  The exhibit examines the effects of the Revolutionary War on the citizens of Penobscot Bay.  This exhibit complements the replica of the Revolutionary War period frigate L’HERMIONE’s arrival in Castine Harbor.  Memoirs of War: A Soldier’s Seabag tells the story through their mementos and souvenirs of ten Maine veterans’ wartime experiences from WW II to the present.  This exhibit was designed and curated by the Senior Class of Searsport District High School.

Penobscot Marine Museum is grateful to the following individuals and organizations, without whose support Exploring the Magic of Photography would not have been possible:  John Bielenberg for designing and building, with Richard Mann, the camera obscura; Maine Humanities Council for their grant funding Through Her Lens; Maine Humanities Council and Maine Arts Commission for funding The Maine Frontier and Make a Cyanotype;  Alice Knight and  Stockton Springs Historical Society for loans of photographs for Through Her Lens;  Libby Bischoff and Maizie Hough for consulting on Through Her Lens;  Liz Fitzsimmons for researching and interviewing The Carters and the Lukes; Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr., Britta Konau, Brenton Hamilton, and Maynard Bray for commentary on Twenty Best; Alice Knight, Silvia Wardwell, Betty Schopmeyer, Dan Harrison and Beverly Mann for commentary on Through Her Lens; and Betty Shopmeyer for scene painting. A special thank you to Dave Johnson for the gardens and for construction and painting to Paul Jean, Jeff Dorr, John Ward, Brian Marquis and to Tom Preble for making it happen.


About Penobscot Marine Museum

Penobscot Marine Museum is located on Route One in the historic seacoast village of Searsport, Maine.  The permanent exhibits include a ship captain’s house, an exquisite collection of Buttersworth marine paintings, scrimshaw, 19th century Chinese and Japanese pottery, paintings and textiles, traditional small water craft, a fisheries exhibit, and an heirloom vegetable garden.  The museum has over 140,000 historic photographs, and a maritime history research library.  Eight of its twelve exhibit buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Museum is open seven days a week, Memorial Day weekend through the third weekend in October.  Museum hours are Monday – Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and Sunday noon – 5:00 pm.  For more information go to, call the Visitors Center 207-548-0334 or offices at 207-548-2529.

Kids, Cameras, and Post-war Waterfronts-thumbnail

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!


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.

kid on raft

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.

Click here for more information


Disorganized and Defeated: The Battle for Penobscot Bay 1779

In PMM’s Main Street Gallery, 40 East Main Street.

The newly acquired court-martial papers of Commodore Dudley Saltonstall will be displayed for the first time in this exhibit examining the effects of the Revolutionary War on the citizens of Penobscot Bay.  This exhibit coincides with  replica of the Revolutionary War period frigate L’HERMIONE’s arrival in Castine harbor.


Penobscot Marine Museum’s Historic Photography Exhibit Now in Deer Isle

Penobscot Marine Museum’s historic photography exhibit Hancock County Through Eastern’s Eye is now at the Island Heritage Trust barn, in Deer Isle, Maine.  The photographs in Hancock County Through Eastern’s Eye are of places people loved a century ago, when the owner of Eastern Illustrating 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 exhibit is hosted by the Deer-Isle-Stonington Historical Society, and will be at the Island Heritage Trust barn, 420 Sunset Rd., Deer Isle, through August 31st.

Stonington, Maine courtesy Penobscot Marine Museum

Stonington, Maine courtesy Penobscot Marine Museum

An online exhibit on Penobscot Marine Museum’s website includes many additional Hancock County images.   The Eastern collection is the largest single photographic collection in Maine, consisting of nearly 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.  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.

Exhibit hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.  The exhibit is free.  For more information go to or

Penobscot Marine Museum is in Searsport, Maine and has seven new exhibits and over fifty programs and events during the 2014 season.  Its three acre, ten building campus is  open Monday through Saturday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and Sunday noon to 5:00 pm, through Sunday, October 19.

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.



Eric Hopkins: Shells – Fish – Shellfish


Monday, June 16 through Sunday, October 19
Opening reception Friday, July 25, 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Blue Fish, 1988, painted wood, 48"x56"x30"

Blue Fish, 1988, painted wood, 48″x56″x30″

This exhibit is in Penobscot Marine Museum’s Douglas and Margaret Carver Memorial Art Gallery, 11 Church Street
Capturing Eric Hopkins’ life-long fascination with life from the sea, this major retrospective includes paintings, monotypes, and glass and wood sculpture, much of which has not been seen before. It also includes Hopkins’ personal collection, which has inspired the work in this exhibition, of the skeletons, shells and other remnants of creatures picked up on beaches over the course of his life. The sea was an integral part of Eric Hopkins’ childhood on the island of North Haven and around Penobscot Bay. “I look back and think how connected everything in my life was,” Hopkins says. “The rocks and shells and bones and branches were my play things. I’d see the patterns of clouds repeated on the waves on the water and later in the flesh of the filleted flounder.”

Broken Shell Form #1, 1986, ink and oil o/c, 4' x 3'

Broken Shell Form #1, 1986, ink and oil o/c, 4′ x 3′

“Do It Your Way”: Gee’s Bend Quilts & Quilters in Maine

Saturday, August 2 through Sunday, September 7
Opening reception Saturday, August 2, 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Generously sponsored by Fiber College of Maine and the Emily and William Muir Community Fund of the Maine Community Foundation.
To view the complete lineup of our Gee’s Bend events, click here.

Quilt Collage 1

Gee’s Bend quilts have been hailed by the New York Times as “some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced”. Gee’s Bend is a tiny remote town in rural Alabama. For decades the women of Gee’s Bend made quilts to keep their families warm, creating their own designs in isolation. In 1998 art collector Will Arnett recognized these quilts as important works of art and organized The Quilts of Gee’s Bend, an exhibition which began at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and travelled to nine major museums across the country including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Whitney Museum in New York City. This will be the first time the quilts and the quilters have been north of Boston. This exhibit is a collaboration between Penobscot Marine Museum, Maine Fiberarts, and Fiber College of Maine, whose director Astrig Tanguay is responsible for bringing the quilts and quiltmakers to Maine. Gee’s Bend quilters China Pettway, Stella Mae Pettaway, Revil Mosley and Lucy Mingo will be teaching classes at Fiber College of Maine September 3rd through September 8th.

On the evening of September 3rd the First Congregational Church of Searsport will host a public New England boiled dinner, and a discussion forum and gospel singing with China Pettway, Stella Mae Pettaway, Revil Mosley and Lucy Mingo. The forum, during which two quilts will be raffled, will be moderated by Maine Center for Contemporary Art Director Suzette McAvoy. “Do It Your Way”: Gee’s Bend Quilts & Quilters in Maine, but with a different selection of quilts, will be at Maine Fiberarts from Friday, July 4 through Saturday, August 30.

Photography exhibits in the Main Street Gallery

Maritime Muse – Inspired By the Sea
Saturday, May 24, through Thursday, June 26
Opening reception Friday, May 23, 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Dean Kotula

Dean Kotula

This historically significant group of silver gelatin photographs by Dean Kotula offers an exciting and rare glimpse of foreign factory ships fishing in U.S. waters. After 1975, every foreign vessel fishing in U.S. waters had to have an American on board during fishing operations to document catches and collect biological data. From 1985 to 1990 Kotula worked aboard these factory ships as an observer, taking full advantage of this extraordinary experience by putting his camera to use.

What Once Was – Our Changing Fisheries
Saturday, June 28 through Tuesday, July 29
Opening reception Saturday, June 28, 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Lisa Tyson Ennis

Lisa Tyson Ennis

Hauntingly beautiful photographs by Lisa Tyson Ennis document an ancient coastal way of life which is fast becoming extinct. Included are photographs of remote fishing villages in Newfoundland accessible only by boat. Lisa Tyson Ennis works solely with historical processes: large and medium format cameras, black and white film, handmade toners, and oil paints. Each image is hand printed and painted with light in a traditional wet darkroom. Ennis’s work is in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Tides Institute, the Delaware Art Museum, and the Portland Museum of Art.

The Photography of Antonia Small
Tuesday, September 9 through Sunday, October 19
Opening reception Saturday, September 13, 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Antonia Small, Fishinghouse detail

Antonia Small, Fishinghouse detail

Antonia Small’s lovely photographs bear witness to remarkable people in coastal villages doing whatever they can to keep the ancient link to fishing and to the sea alive. Her photographic work is devoted to the study of relationships between people, place and time, particularly sea-infused places and the people who love those places. Living in Port Clyde, Antonia Small is happy to be within earshot of the sea and walking distance to a wharf or a beach. Her photographs have been shown in group and solo shows in New England, New York and France.

Photography News

Photo news Collage

Boothbay Railway Village in Boothbay, Maine

Saturday, May 3 from 1:30 – 3:00 pm
The Boothbay Railway Village in partnership with the Boothbay Region Historical Society will host Kevin
Johnson, photo archivist for the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, Maine for an illustrated talk entitled Boothbay: The Postcard View; Selections from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company. The talk will take place inside the Town Hall at the Boothbay Railway Village. Admission is free, donations to the Penobscot Marine Museum are appreciated. The Boothbay Railway Village is located at 586 Wiscasset Road,
Route 27 in Boothbay, Maine.

The Apprenticeshop in Rockland, Maine

Thursday, May 8, 7:00 pm
Kevin Johnson, photo archivist for the Penobscot Marine Museum, will discuss and share the maritime photography archives of the Penobscot Marine Museum of Searsport. The Apprenticeshop, is located at 643 Main Street in Rockland. The event is open to the public and admission is $5.

Summerfolk: The Postcard View

Live on the Maine Memory Network

Hancock County Through Eastern’s Eye

Through April 30 at
Sullivan Town Office
1888 US Hwy 1

Historic Photographs of Schooner Bowdoin Returning From Greenland

Now Online at Penobscot Marine Museum
The John Booras Collection of historic photographs of the schooner Bowdoin, probably taken in1924 on a return voyage of Arctic exploration from Greenland, is now online. Most of these one hundred and forty photographs were taken at a stop the Bowdoin made on Monhegan Island, and they provide an intimate look at an Arctic expedition making its way home. A native-made kayak, a young girl in native Greenlandic dress, and northern dogs are seen on board ship. The Bowdoin’s famous captain Admiral Donald B. MacMillan, who was recruited for Arctic exploration by Robert E. Peary, is being presented with flowers by local children. John Booras, a retired postman who collects and researches old photographs, found these negatives in a shop in Massachusetts, bought the collection, and returned it to Maine by donating it to the Penobscot Marine Museum.