News at the Museum

To receive press releases or for more information, contact Sabrina Kettell, skettell@pmm-maine.org or 207-548-2529 ext. 216.

New Fitz Henry Lane Added to the Collection!

“The Lumber Schooner” by Fitz Henry Lane, 1850, Photographed by Henry Peach

Thanks to the estate of Ellen Guild Moot, Penobscot Marine Museum recently acquired the Fitz Henry Lane oil on canvas painting “The Lumber Schooner”, painted in 1850.

The Buyer: Edward Dyer Peters ( 1785-1856)

In the 18th century the lumber trade between Maine and Massachusetts was disorganized. Lumber went south on speculation fetching whatever the market paid when it arrived. Edward Dyer Peters changed this. Born in Blue Hill Maine (the son of John Peters, who by 1790 was Blue Hill’s most prosperous citizen) by 1800 he was a partner with his brother John in Ellsworth’s lumber business. Then, Ellsworth, built on the Union River, was a major lumber port with the river floating logs from the woods and powering sawmills. To organize the trade, Ellsworth’s lumber merchants apparently sent Peters to Boston somewhere about 1811, where Peters established a lumber wholesale business, able to maintain and inventory and send orders back. His business prospered; in 1856 his estate apparently passed some $600,000 to his six surviving children, something like 60 million in todays dollars. He also owned three of Lane’s paintings.

The Artist: Fitz Henry Lane (1804-1865)

By 1850, Gloucester’s  Fitz Henry Lane had become Massachusetts premier marine painter whose works were owned by merchants, shipowners and prominent citizens of Coastal New England and New York. His views of Boston Harbor, Gloucester, and Maine’s coast were eagerly sought. He vacationed in Castine and traveled the coast by small boat in search of Maine scenes.  He also painted on commission; many Bostonians had him create paintings of their ships. This painting, one of three bought by Peters, was likely such a commission, with Peters wanting a good painting of the modest lumber schooners of the time, the ships which made his living.

Today Lane’s paintings are owned by major American art museums; his art has produced many exhibits and catalogs. The Cape Ann Museum is the major source and repository of his paintings. For more information see http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/.

The Painting:

Here the schooner is off what is probably Gloucester’s Eastern Point Light, down bound for Boston. It looks like she has just tacked to a course for Boston with her topsail still needing to be angled around to catch the fresh westerly wind. Lumber is piled high on her deck, a common practice before the much larger later lumber schooners. The crew works the vessel from the top of the pile and the helmsman relies on a bow lookout to see forward.

The painting has a coasting schooner at the right leaving Gloucester, possibly with a load of dried cod for the West Indies. To the left is a Gloucester fishing schooner bound east for  the Grand Banks. The fishermen would be hand lining from the schooner and racing home with a load of fresh cod. To the lower right is a small spritsail rigged boat, likely being sailed by an inshore fisherman.

For the last 165 years or so the painting has been in the Peters family. Its donor wanted to share it.


Penobscot Marine Museum First Annual T-shirt Design Contest Winners

1st Place, Aleida, Bucksport Middle School

Penobscot Marine Museum’s theme for the 2017 season is Gone Fishing! exploring the world of Maine’s commercial fisheries. To connect with Maine students on this topic, PMM asked for help in designing a Maine fish t-shirt. The contest was open to any school aged student in Maine.

The 300+ entries made it a difficult task for the panel of area artists and art enthusiasts to choose, but after much deliberation they were able to narrow it down to three. The first place winner is Aleida from Bucksport Middle School, who received a lifetime membership to Penobscot Marine Museum, as well as a field trip for her class. The second place is Hannah from Leroy H. Smith School, and third place is Madeline from Moscow Elementary School.
Because of the fantastic response, Penobscot Marine Museum intends to hold a t-shirt design contest yearly to connect with students about the each season’s theme. These t-shirts are available at PMM’s Museum Store at 2 Church Street in Searsport, and their online store https://squareup.com/store/penobscot-marine-museum/.

2nd Place, Hannah, Leroy H. Smith School

3rd Place, Madeline, Moscow Elementary School


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

2017 New England Society in the City of New York Book Award Winner

Maine on Glass: The Early Twentieth Century in Glass Plate Photography is the New England Society 2017 Book Award winner in the Photography category. The New England Society is a nonprofit organization that celebrates and promotes the New England heritage, and honors books that celebrate New England it its culture through their annual book awards.

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.

Kevin Johnson

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 put 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.


Celebrate with Ralph Stanley at Penobscot Marine Museum

Ralph Stanley, photo by Peggy McKenna, PMM Photo Archives

Saturday, May 27, 2017, Penobscot Marine Museum will host an afternoon of boat talk and music in celebration of the career and talents of MDI boatbuilder, National Heritage Fellow and Penobscot Marine Museum Trustee Ralph Stanley. Stanley will be at Penobscot Marine Museum’s Searsport campus to celebrate the day. The Museum will be offering $1 admission all day as part of this event.

Ralph Stanley is recognized in the State of Maine and nationally as a master boatbuilder. In 1946 Ralph Stanley began his wooden boat building career. During this time he built and restored more than 70 boats including lobster boats and yachts, dories, rowboats and Friendship Sloops. Stanley became a National Endowment of the Arts, National Heritage Fellow in 1999 for his contributions to boatbuilding as a traditional art. Along with boatbuilding, Stanley is a musician who enjoys making his own violins.

At 1:00 p.m. view the film Ralph Stanley: An Eye for Wood with a live commentary by film director Jeff Dobbs.

At 2:00 p.m. enjoy a selection of traditional fiddle music presented by Belfast Bay Fiddlers & Friends. Belfast Bay Fiddlers is a group of local musicians who enjoy playing and sharing their music. Feel free to bring your instrument and join in with the group.

Raise a glass in a toast to Ralph Stanley at 3:00 p.m. and hear stories and tributes about Ralph and his influence on the coast of Maine. Many thanks to Marshall Wharf Brewing Co. of Belfast for their generous support.

At 4:00 p.m. Old Grey Goose will play a selection of American folk songs on a variety of acoustic instruments. Their music focuses on core American values through songs of love, work, diversity and achievement.

The celebration event runs from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 27, 2017. Penobscot Marine Museum is open 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission for this special day is $1 per person.

About Penobscot Marine Museum

Penobscot Marine Museum’s theme for the 2017 season is Gone Fishing! with its featured exhibit, The Net Result: Our Evolving Fisheries, explores the world of Maine’s commercial fisheries through exhibits and programs that will entertain and educate children and adults alike. Gone Fishing! runs May 27, 2017 through October 15, 2017 at Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, Maine.

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 www.penobscotmarinemuseum.org or call the Visitors Center 207-548-0334 or Administrative Offices at 207-548-2529.


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 www.penobscotmarinemuseum.org 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 https://penobscotmarinemuseum.org/national-fisherman/.

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


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

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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​.​
​Paperback
$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.


Five Thousand U.S. Fishing Industry Photographs Now Online

National-Fisherman-logo-news-640

In 2012, the international media company Diversified Communications donated over 15,000 photographs to Penobscot Marine Museum from its National Fisherman magazine archives. This collection, the largest of its kind, documents the U. S. fishing industry from the 1950’s to the 1990’s, providing a unique detailed visual survey of commercial fishing in this country during a time when the increasing industrialization of fishing had enormous and often devastating consequences for individual fishermen and for fishing stock. John K. Bullard, the Regional Administrator for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), calls the National Fisherman collection of “…great national historical significance because it documents a critical period in the history of U.S. fishing.” In 2014 the museum received grant funding to digitize the collection. The first 5000 photographs are now available to the public online at www.penobscotmarinemuseum.org. All 15,000 images will be online by 2017.

Native Fisherman Operating Motorized Boat, PMM National Fisherman Collection

Native Fisherman Operating Motorized Boat, PMM National Fisherman Collection

The National Fisherman collection includes photographs of all aspects of the fishing industry. There are photographs of Greenpeace activists protesting foreign whaling, of fishing strikes in the Alaskan salmon fisheries, of tired East Coast draggers, foreign and domestic factory ships, and Alaskan halibut trawlers. There are photographs of the people of the industry; fishermen hauling their catch, fish processors in factories, and angry fishermen in meetings with industry regulators. National Fisherman photographed fishing vessels being built at sea, people working at fish piers, fish markets, and fishing industry trade shows. Now for the first time an international audience of scholars, historians, film makers, educators, curators, ecologists, policy makers and the general public will all have access to this wealth of visual documentation.

National Fisherman is the only national commercial fishing publication in the U.S. Over the course of their history, which can be traced back to a 1921 fish report in Belfast, Maine’s newspaper Republican Journal, they amassed what became the largest collection of 20th century photographs documenting the fishing industry. The decision to donate their vast photography archive to Penobscot Marine Museum was made by parent company Diversified Communications when National Fisherman’s photo submissions switched to digital.

Penobscot Marine Museum is extremely grateful to the following for their support: this project is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and by The Windhover Foundation. This project has also been financed (in part) with Federal funds from the National Maritime Heritage program, administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. However, the contents and opinions contained herein do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of the Interior, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Department of the Interior.

Transporting an Elephant, PMM National Fisherman Collection

Transporting an Elephant, PMM National Fisherman Collection


Seabird Guano Bottle From Penobscot Marine Museum At Smithsonian

Penobscot Marine Museum’s Guano Bottle c. 1880.

Penobscot Marine Museum’s Guano Bottle c. 1880.

A bottle filled with colored seabird guano (droppings) from Penobscot Marine Museum’s collection is currently on display in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. The bottle is part of the exhibit The Norie Marine Atlas & Guano Trade which runs now through January 2017.

“This is a very rare object, I know of only one other like it,” reports PMM’s Collections Manager Cipperly Good. “When I heard that the Smithsonian was looking for guano objects for their exhibit, we were pleased to be able to loan them our bottle.” The bottle may have been made by Chinese guano miners to commemorate a voyage by the Searsport-owned ship HENRIETTA to Peru around 1880. Many Maine ships sailed to Peru for the guano trade which began in the early 19th century. Guano was thought to be the best fertilizer in the world, and Americans, British, and Germans flocked to the Chincha Islands off the coast of Peru to mine it. Dropping deposits from the seabirds on these islands reached up to 200 feet, however by the end of the 19th century, the guano was effectively depleted. Several Penobscot Marine Museum staff are travelling to Washington, D.C. for a special tour of the exhibit with National Museum of American History’s curator Paul Johnston.


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