News and Press Releases

Penobscot Marine Museum 2017 Exhibit – Gone Fishing!

Photo by Jeff Dworsky, PMM Photo Archives

Penobscot Marine Museum opens for their 81st year Saturday, May 27, 2017 with Gone Fishing! The new show explores the world of Maine’s commercial fisheries through exhibits and programs that will entertain and educate children and adults alike.

An opening reception The Net Result: Our Evolving Fisheries will be held Thursday, May 25 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The Net Result uses the Museum’s photo collection from the National Fisherman publication to form the backbone of this exhibit, focusing on the commercial fishing industry in the post-WWII era.

Photo by John Frye, PMM’s National Fisherman Collection

As technology has changed through the years, so has the equipment that is used. Museum visitors will have the opportunity to take a look through time and see how the wheelhouses of fishing vessels have evolved.

Advances in aquatic farming ensure the sustainability of Maine’s fisheries. As part of Penobscot Marine Museum’s 2017 season, visitors will be able to observe an operational aquaponics system courtesy of Herring Gut Learning Center.

Photo by Red Boutilier, PMM’s National Fisherman Collection

Fishing weirs were once a vital part of Maine’s fishing industry, but now number in the few. In 2017 Penobscot Marine Museum will have a recreated fishing weir on site where visitors can experience a weir from a fish’s perspective. And while you’re visiting be sure to “go fishing” for realistic looking Maine fish in the Museum’s new display.

The season will be filled with a line-up of speakers, demonstrations and events related to Maine fisheries, including a Maine seafood event September 9 and 10. Maine Marine Fare will celebrate all the foods from the abundant waters of coastal Maine with talks, panel discussions and educational tastings. It will end with a dinner called “Food from our Seas,” prepared by chef Sam Hayward with the assistance of Ladleah Dunn. Tasting and dinner tickets sold separately.

PMM’s Atlantic Fisherman Collection

Gone Fishing! runs May 27, 2017 through October 15, 2017 at Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, Maine.

About Penobscot Marine Museum

Penobscot Marine Museum brings Maine maritime history to life in twelve beautiful historic buildings in the charming seacoast village of Searsport, Maine. Exhibits include hands-on activities for children and adults, as well as a ship captain’s house, marine paintings, scrimshaw, 19th century Chinese and Japanese pottery, paintings and textiles, historic Maine boats, a fisheries exhibit, and an heirloom vegetable garden. The Museum has over 200,000 historic photographs, and a maritime history research library. Check the website for daily activities and events. The Museum is open seven days a week, Memorial Day weekend through the third weekend in October. PMM Visitors Center, 2 Church Street, Searsport, Maine. For more information go to or call the Visitors Center 207-548-0334 or Administrative Offices at 207-548-2529.

Photo by Bryan Hitchcock, PMM’s National Fisherman Collection

Penobscot Marine Museum’s Jeff Dworsky Photo Collection at Camden Public Library for Maritime Month

Photo by Jeff Dworsky

A Way of Life: The Fishing Families of Stonington photographs by Jeff Dworsky will be on display at Camden Public Library from April 4, 2017 through April 30, 2017. Maritime Month will be kicked off will photographer Jeff Dworsky speaking on Tuesday, April 4, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. at Camden Public Library. This Exhibit was curated by PMM volunteer and public historian, Liz Fitzsimmons.

Jeff Dworsky moved to Maine in 1971, still a teenager. He lived briefly on an island in Muscongus Bay before settling in Stonington. He was already a photographer—intermittently so, but it had become part of his way of interpreting the world around him.

Like many young men living in coastal communities, Dworsky began to make his living from the sea, first by digging clams, then later as a lobsterman. He continued to use the camera. Much later, in 1990, Dworsky’s images came to the attention of Peter Ralston, the Rockport photographer and co-founder of Island Institute in Rockland, Maine, during one of Ralston’s visits to York Island (near Isle au Haut, where Dworsky was living with his family at the time). This recognition was the opening of a door for his photojournalism career. In 1991, he began to freelance off and on for various magazines, including Downeast and National Geographic Traveler. His insider perspective lent a power and credibility to the work which was obvious to his publishers.

Photo by Jeff Dworsky

Dworsky drew some of his submissions from a personal project he had begun in the late 1980s. Like many Mainers, he watched with dismay as the real estate boom during this decade began to dissolve the traditional fabric of life in coastal towns. From 1988 to 1993, he undertook an extensive photographic survey of the people in these communities, many of whom were known to him, in the midst of their lives and culture. As he puts it, this group of photographs was “…an ode to the loss of the place I chose to live, that I loved…the old Downeast coast.”

He fished steadily until 2015, and has been reinventing himself since then. This includes some time behind the lens, though he’s turned it away from the Maine coast, which, in has forever changed.

Photo by Jeff Dworsky

Photo by Jeff Dworsky

Calling All Students!

In 2017, Penobscot Marine Museum will explore Maine fisheries in our new exhibit The Net Result: Our Evolving Fisheries. To fit with this focus we are asking Maine students to help us design a fisheries related t-shirt. A panel of area artists and art enthusiasts will choose one student’s fish design to be incorporated into a t-shirt that will be sold in our Museum Store. The student whose design is chosen will receive a life-time membership, as well as free museum admission for their class. Please have entries to PMM by April 1, 2017. Thank you for helping!

Click to download the application form.

Upcoming Release of 5000 More Fishing Photos From the National Fisherman Archive

Photo credit: Milton Moore

Photo credit: Milton Moore

Maine’s own National Fisherman magazine has always been a hardcore trade publication, which means that its readership falls inside a particular sphere of interest and activity. At the same time, its cultural importance shouldn’t be underestimated. Its photographic archive, entrusted to PMM in 2012 for long-term preservation, tells a critical story—the rise of industrial fishing and its consequences for fish and fishermen. This was never the intent of the publishers; after all, NF is a periodical, always intended to keep fish harvesters, and the interested public, up to date about emerging practices and technologies, changes in regulation, and to relate the experiences of men and women who make their living at sea and in the fisheries. That being the case, the magazine was on the ground—more accurately, at sea—during these crucial decades when technology changed fishing, as it did so many other arenas of human activity, beyond recognition.

National Fisherman is also a story of entrepreneurial vision—it’s a consolidation a handful of earlier, regional fishing papers, notably Atlantic Fisherman, whose photographs also reside here at Penobscot Marine Museum.

Most viewers wouldn’t fail to be intrigued by witnessing the many scenes of rugged characters maneuvering heavy trawl nets to haul in a catch or men balancing on scows heaped with oysters, to see snapshots of crews being rescued from foundering vessels, or to stumble across those instances of split-second chance and artistic confidence that make a good portrait. There are countless vignettes of people at work—repairing hulls, building traps of wire or wood (depending on the era), cleaning congealed oil off of beaches after tanker wrecks, pilots navigating narrow channels. So while there’s much within this body of work that is, admittedly, of very specific interest, there’s much else that captures the imagination and opens windows onto worlds seldom glimpsed by most.

Photo credit: Bryan Hitchcock

Photo credit: Bryan Hitchcock

On December 21st, after many more months of carefully digitizing and cataloging these legacy photographs, we’ll be rolling out the second group of 5000 on our online database. Our website features a browsing tool designed to help visitors explore the collection. To peruse these new images, check us out at

This project has been financed (in part) with Federal funds from the National Maritime Heritage program (administered by the National Park Service) and from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Photo credit: Jack Stark

Photo credit: Jack Stark

The Northeast by Eastern Screening and Live Score

Maine Broiler Day from PMM’s Photo Archives

Maine Broiler Day from PMM’s Photo Archives

On Monday, November 14, 2016, Penobscot Marine Museum presents the Sumner McKane film, The Northeast by Eastern, with live score performed by Sumner McKane and Josh Robbins.

The Northeast by Eastern combines Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Company’s comprehensive collection of early 20th century photographs with archival film footage, interviews, oral histories, a musical soundtrack featuring period music, as well as an original score by Sumner McKane. Combined, these stories and images illustrate an era unlike any other in American history.

The screening will take place at 7:00 pm at the Colonial Theatre in Belfast. Proceeds from the film will benefit the Penobscot Marine Museum photo archives allowing more of these important historical photographs to become available to the world via the museum’s online database.

The event was underwritten through a generous sponsorship by Mathews Brothers and Coastal Healthcare Alliance. Beer will be provided by Marshall Wharf Brewing. Tickets are $20 with a limited number of VIP tickets for $50.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please call 207-548-2529 or visit click here

Maine on Glass: The Early Twentieth Century in Glass Plate Photography Book Release

Left: Maine on Glass: The Early Twentieth Century in Glass Plate Photography, Right: Kevin Johnson

Left: Maine on Glass: The Early Twentieth Century in Glass Plate Photography, Right: Kevin Johnson

Maine on Glass: The Early Twentieth Century in Glass Plate Photography is the joint effort of Kevin Johnson, Penobscot Marine Museum’s Photo Archivist; W.H. Bunting, Maine’s foremost interpreter of historic images; Earl G. Shettleworth Jr., Maine State Historian. This book uses images from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company to focus on early twentieth century Maine life, from people at work to people at play.

The Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company was a Belfast, Maine based “real photo postcard” company operated by R. Herman Cassens from 1909 to 1947. He dreamed of “Photographing the Transcontinental Trail–Maine to California,” focusing on small rural towns and villages. Although his dream was never fully realized, the company did manage to produce more than 40,000 glass plate negatives.

The EIP collection is now housed at Penobscot Marine Museum, where PMM Photo Archivist, Kevin Johnson oversees the preservation and digitization of that collection, along with several other photographic collections.

Johnson, puts his experience and knowledge of the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company collection into this book, along with 200 photographs from PMM’s extensive collection of negatives from EIP.

Book talks and signings will be held all over the state, including one with all three authors at PMM on Thursday, September 22 at 7:00 p.m.

For more information or to order a copy of the book, click here or please call 207-548-0334.

Maine On Glass: The Early Twentieth Century in Glass Plate Photography


Maine On Glass: The Early Twentieth Century in Glass Plate Photography ​(Signed by author, Kevin Johnson)​
by W H. Bunting, Kevin Johnson, Earle G. Shettleworth Jr​.​
$37.00 (includes tax and shipping)

Description: ​Nineteenth-century Maine―famed for its lumbering, shipbuilding, and seafaring―has attracted copious attention from historians, but early twentieth-century Maine has not. Maine on Glass redresses this imbalance with 190 postcard photos and three of Maine’s foremost historians.

The images in this book were selected from 22,000 glass plate negatives created by the Eastern company between 1909 and World War II. As an archive of early twentieth-century Maine architectural photography, the Eastern collection (now housed at the Penobscot Marine Museum) has no equal, and it gives us many unexpected glimpses of Maine life.

Penobscot Marine Museum Celebrates Searsport Maritime Heritage Days

Fowler-True-Ross House on PMM’s Campus

Fowler-True-Ross House on PMM’s Campus

Saturday, August 6th, Penobscot Marine Museum will join in with the town of Searsport to celebrate Maritime Heritage Days with a temporary campus-wide exhibit and a house tour featuring Searsport sea captains’ homes.

Saturday, August 6th from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., PMM will host a campus-wide exhibit on the past, present and future of the port of Searsport. In addition to our traditional indoor exhibits celebrating Searsport built ships and captains, outdoor exhibits will highlight the ports of calls of outbound Searsport ships and inbound foreign cargo vessels from the 1790s to the present and the role of Mack Point during World War II. On special loan from the Maine State Museum, artifacts from the 1779 Penobscot Expedition will be on display. The Museum will host our sister historical organizations on campus, with some old sea captains and families who went to sea, rising from their graves to tell their tales. Regular admission prices apply.

As a benefit to PMM, nine historic Searsport Sea Captain’s properties will be open for tours on Saturday, August 6th, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Participants will get a sense of Searsport’s rich seafaring history as they tour five private residences, two inns and two museum buildings throughout Searsport. The cost is $10.00 per person; tickets can be purchased at PMM’s Visitors Center at 2 Church Street in Searsport. To reserve tickets prior to August 6, please call 207-548-0334.

Searsport High School Boatbuilders Sail With Maine Daysail, LLC On The Schooner TIMBERWIND

Schooner TIMBERWIND from the Boutilier Collection; part of Penobscot Marine Museum’s extensive photo archives.

Schooner TIMBERWIND from the Boutilier Collection; part of Penobscot Marine Museum’s extensive photo archives.

(Belfast, Maine) On Tuesday, June 21, student boatbuilders from Searsport High School have been invited by Maine DaySail, LLC for a six hour sail aboard the schooner TIMBERWIND with Captain Lance Meadow. The group will leave at 11:00 am from Thompson’s Wharf in Belfast.

Not only will this be a fun experience for the students, but it will give them the chance to try out the 75 blocks they rebuilt, see how sails preform on a larger scale, and put to use their charts and courses knowledge learned in their navigation class.

The ten students worked from mid-January through their boat launch the end of May, with nine community volunteers, and master boat-builder Greg Rossel to build two Shellback Dinghies for the class The Geometry of Boat Building. This is the sixth year for The Geometry of Boat Building, a collaboration between Searsport District High School and Penobscot Marine Museum held at the museum’s Hamilton Learning Center in Searsport.

Wayne Hamilton, owner of Hamilton Marine, teaches a navigation class, and the students travel to Camden to work with sailmaker Grant Gambell to make sails for the dinghies. The class would not be possible without local businesses who donate time and materials: Gambell and Hunter Sailmakers, Hamilton Marine, Epifanes, Maine Coast Lumber, WoodenBoat Store, Chesapeake Light Craft, George Kirby Jr Paint Company.

For more information on the Penobscot Marine Museum, please visit For more information on Maine DaySail, please visit

Postcards! Postcards! Get your Postcards! Penobscot Marine Museum at Maine’s 2016 Antique Paper Show

Car used by Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Co., Penobscot Marine Museum collection

Car used by Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Co., Penobscot Marine Museum collection

A sampling of historic images from Penobscot Marine Museum’s collection of over 140,000 photographs will be available at the Maine 2016 Antique Paper Show on Saturday, June 25, from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm at the First Congregational Church Vestry, 8 Church Street, Searsport.

Penobscot Marine Museum’s collection of historic photographs began with a collection of negatives from a turn-of-the-nineteenth-century postcard company, Eastern Illustrated & Publishing Company of Belfast, Maine. Postcards, which were hugely popular in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and their glass plate negatives still have a significant presence in the museum’s collection.

The postcard show complements the museum’s 2016 exhibit Wish You Were Here: Communicating Maine. Inspired by the 100th anniversary of “Maine Postcard Day”, this exhibit includes a hundred years of images which have been used to communicate the unique qualities of Maine to the outside world. With photographic postcards, photography, and contemporary art, this exhibit explores the changes which have taken place to the images that have been used to communicate Maine.

In connection with this year’s show, Associate Professor of History and Department Chair at the University of Southern Maine, Libby Bischoff will be conducting her Maine Postcard Project on campus from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. You will be able to write postcards to friends and family using postcards designed by Bischoff featuring historic and contemporary images of Maine. Bischoff was an advisor on our 2015 exhibit, Through Her Lens, and was the writer of our introductory panels about the history of postcards for our current exhibit, Wish You Were Here: Communicating Maine. Libby is also one of the authors of the recently released book, Maine Photography: A History, 1840-2015.

The Maine 2016 Antique Paper Show: Postcards and Paper Collectibles includes thousands of vintage postcards, old maps, historic photographs, sheet music, and paper ephemera. Free appraisals for your paper collectibles will be available from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Admission is $2, and includes $2 off of a Penobscot Marine Museum admission ticket.

For more information call Kevin Johnson at 207-548-2529 ext.210.