Permanent Exhibits

Regional Watercraft

One of New England's largest displays of classic small craft, with more than 50 boats on view in several buildings. The collection contains craft of every description, including lobster boats, peapods, dories, cedar/canvas and birchbark canoes, Whitehalls, racing sloops and more, all with a Maine pedigree. There's also a small but choice collection of antique engines on display. Download and print the boat list as PDF

Gone Fishing

From lobsters to sardines, Maine's fisheries define and influence the state's history, economy, and culture. Learn about the early days of hand-lining, how to catch a lobster, how to dress for sea, and different kinds of boats and gear. Watch videos and examine historic photographs from the Atlantic Fisherman. Kids will enjoy going aboard a real dory and replicas of a lobster boat and the sardine carrier Jacob Pike.

This exhibit is funded by:

The Maine Humanities Council The Gardner Charitable Trust The Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust The Davis Family Foundation Linda L. Bean

Souvenirs from the China Trade

The sea captains of 19th century Searsport were like other travelers, in that they collected souvenirs. Come see what local ships' masters brought back from their journeys to trade in and around China. Items include gifts to family and friends and objects to remind them of their voyages. Items you'll see in the Merithew House include: a pair of bronze "Fu" dogs that likely guarded the doors of a Chinese temple or palace, elaborately embroidered Chinese costumes, and painful shoes for women's bound feet. Other items include children's toys and games, such as dolls and ivory jackstraws (think pick-up-sticks), whimsical wood miniatures of Chinese life, and Japanese and Chinese paintings of people and ships.

Rowboats for Rusticators

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, "rusticators" were visitors to Maine who sought to enjoy a rustic vacation as a change from their refined, everyday, often urban lives. Any hunting or fishing trip or family vacation on a lake or river was sure to involve rowing, and possibly hunting or fishing, in small wooden boats like those shown here: an Adirondack Guide Boat, a Whitehall, and a simple skiff. Other boats on display include a recreational peapod and an Old Town sponson canoe set up for rowing, along with a selection of choice historic photos depicting small-craft pleasure boating in Maine.

Working the Bay

History, Economy, and Recreation of the Penobscot Region

The Penobscot watershed did much to define the culture of Maine and beyond. Tall pines from its forests became masts for English warships. Later, its forest resources became everything from clothespins to schooners, while stone from its quarries helped built New York and Washington, DC. Explore the history of the Penobscot Region from several perspectives, including: Prehistory: the original Wabanaki residents Naval history: the disastrous Penobscot Campaign (America's greatest naval defeat prior to Pearl Harbor) Economic history: timber, stone, shipbuilding, ice, and fishing Recreation: the region's birth as a vacation destination

Hall of Ship Models

A fine display including builders' half-hull models, fully-rigged models accurate right down to the number of treenails fastening the planks to the frames (14,000 in one case!), and treasures like these: a bone "prisoner's model" of a full-rigged warship the ship B. Aymer, commanded by Capt. Joshua Slocum a set of modern whaling ships: a "killer" and a factory ship a tug with a functioning miniature steam engine

Sea Captains of Searsport

In the 19th century, no town in the United States boasted more captains than Searsport, Maine. Many captains brought their wives and children along on voyages, and an interactive video kiosk tells their tales, while photographs show us what these mariners from another age looked like – some grim, some pleasant, and some downright scary. Famous seafaring names abound, including Pendleton, Merithew, Nichols and Colcord.