Sailing Small: Small Boats Big Ideas

What inspires model makers to create miniature versions of watercraft? Penobscot Marine Museum will explore this question through the 2018 exhibit Sailing Small: Small Boats, Big Ideas. Using objects, photographs, and primary source audio, visual, and written accounts, the exhibit will spotlight Maine model makers.

Models, and the inspiration to build them, range from the practical to the whimsical. Sailing Small: Small Boats, Big Ideas will showcase key models from the Museum’s collection. Master shipbuilders and designers create models to test design theories, test out buoyancy and load limits, and to build the full-size watercraft. Prisoners of war with no other outlet for their creativity built models from any materials at hand, including soup bones as in the case of French prisoners-of-war during the 1810s. Nostalgia and pride for a beloved watercraft led many sea captains or ship owner to build or commission the building of a ship model long after the original craft met its end. Models inspire great thinkers, like Buckminster Fuller, to ponder how we humans design functional objects to harness the power of nature to our advantage.

The exhibit’s model-making shop, filled with Burt Libby’s tools and his series of canoes showing the progression of model-making steps and interviews with other model makers, provides visitors with a look into the craft of model-making. The photographs and rowboat models of Elmer Montgomery of Rockland, Maine document the working waterfront of the 1940s that is slowly fading from view with the advent of gasoline and diesel engines. Elmer Montgomery’s models inspired Harold “Dynamite” Payson of South Thomaston, Maine to build his own models, that eventually became a business with model-making books, plans, patterns and model components that have in turn inspired this generation of model-makers. An accompanying speaker’s series will invite current model-makers to share what inspires them to build in miniature.

Daily and special programming will allow the visitor to transition from an observer of inspiration to becoming the source of inspiration. Visitors will have the opportunity to build a model, test it out in our model pond, and take it home. In addition to testing out their own models, visitors can test out remote control boats and race our fleet of sailboats.

Sailing Small: Small Boats, Big Ideas runs May 26 through October 21, 2018 throughout the Penobscot Marine Museum campus.

Sponsored by:
American Marine Model Gallery
Bank of America
Bluejacket Shipcrafters
Cold Mountain Builders
Diversified Communications
Hewes & Company, Inc.
Fiddleheads Artisan Supply
Front Street Shipyard
Gamage Shipyard
Halldale Farms
Hamilton Marine
Otis Enterprises Marine
Rockland Post and Beam
Seaworthy Small Ships
Town of Searsport
Viking Lumber