Maynard Bray Collection

Maynard Bray Collection

We’re fortunate to have stewardship of some contemporary collections whose photographers are still with us. As many of our audience know, Maynard is alive and well and living in coastal Maine. He’s been working on and around boats for most of his life and has gone out of his way to meet countless others of a similar stripe.

After earning a BS in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maine, he went to work for Electric Boat in Groton, CT in 1956, followed by a six-year stint at Bath Iron Works. By the time he finished there in 1969, he’d become their Chief Mechanical Engineer. He spent the next six years at Mystic Seaport as shipyard supervisor. Here he was in his element: up to his elbows in wooden boats. After leaving Mystic for Maine in the mid-1970s, he stayed involved with Mystic Seaport into the early 2000s: he continued sourcing wood for the museum’s endless restorations, serving on the Ships and Yachting Committees, rescuing important collections of ships’ plans from being thrown out, and as one of the Museum’s trustees. Shortly after returning to the Maine coast, he landed a gig as technical editor for WoodenBoat magazine, a position he still holds today. He’s also been writing the captions for Ben Mendlowitz’s Calendar of Wooden Boats since 1983.

Luckily for small boat aficionados—owners, builders, admirers—Maynard photographed his activities along the way, beginning when he was a teenager. He donated his collection of some 20,000 black and white negatives to Penobscot Marine Museum in 2013. The photos illustrate the fascination Maynard and his late wife Anne shared for traditional craftsmanship and their joy at being on the water.

Our museum is ambitious about collections digitization and publishing this digital content to the web. We’ve rolled out selections of Maynard’s 120mm work, and the first group of his 35mm. We now want to quicken the pace.

To this end, PMM has launched a funding campaign to hire on two specialists. They will dedicate their time to the digital capture and description of Mr. Bray’s work (to date we’ve digitized around 10,000 negatives, and described a selection of those in our database). If the importance of these images is obvious to you the way it is to us, you may wish to contribute to the effort. You can do so easily by clicking the button below.

To highlight the project and increase the visibility of the collection, we’ll also be launching a dedicated website in March. Here we’ll showcase new images, share our progress, and link to large new content publications as they happen.

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More recently, Maynard is one of the co-founders of OffCenterHarbor.com (or more commonly, OCH); OCH subscribers have access to engrossing and entertaining documentary videos the team produces. Their focus is on people who make, own, use, and repair small boats with a creative, DIY approach. PMM has often collaborated with OCH to share and mutually promote content.

Ordinarily during the cold months when boat connoisseurs dream and scheme boating, Maynard spends a day a week here in the PMM photo archives (as did his wife, Anne, before she died in 2018), donating his time to help us get his and other collections ready for our internet audience. These days, we stay in touch, and we continue to benefit from his singular expertise as we bring more of his work to light. We trust everyone will enjoy the fruits of this long labor. To browse his images, click here.

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