Current Exhibits

Kosti Comes Home

Kosti Comes Home is on exhibit at Penobscot Marine Museum May 26 to October 21, 2018. This exhibit is part of our regular admission and is available Monday through Friday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, except for holidays. Please call 207-545-2529 for weekend and holiday hours.

The archive of negatives, contact sheets, and prints of Rockland, Maine photographer, Kosti Ruohomaa, have come home to Maine as the newest addition to the photography holdings of the Penobscot Marine Museum. The collection was recently donated to the PMM by Black Star of New York, Ruohomaa’s photography agency, and consists of thousands of medium and large format negatives, 35 mm negatives and slides, as well as contact sheets and vintage prints.

During the age of the photo magazine, Kosti was a rock star in the photography world. His photographs graced the cover of Life Magazine numerous times. Other major magazines such as Look, National Geographic, and Life used his photos regularly. He moved to Dodge Mountain in Rockland at the age of 13, where his family had a blueberry farm. He discovered his love for photography in the 1930s while working as a cartoonist for Disney. During the 1940s and 50s, his career blossomed. While he photographed around the world, Maine was his favorite subject, both the people and land. He died prematurely in 1961 at the age of 47.

Kosti Ruohomaa self portrait series

Kosti was a storyteller with a camera. He captured the spirit and culture of Maine through its people and landscape like few other photographers have ever done. Howard Chapnick, who headed the Black Star photo agency for which Ruohomaa shot many of his images, once said, “The word [‘artist’] is thrown around with gay abandon in photography: ‘This picture looks like a Rembrandt, this one like a Renoir.’ Kosti’s photographs do not have to be compared to the work of painters. A Ruohomaa picture looks like a Ruohomaa!” His work has been the subject of exhibits at the Farnsworth and the Maine State museum. A biography, Kosti Ruohomaa: The Photograher Poet, by Deanna Bonner-Ganter was published by Downeast Books in 2016 and a portfolio of his work, Night Train at Wiscasset Station by Lew Dietz came out in 1977. His photographs are iconic and familiar, especially in Maine.

The Kosti collection is a remarkable resource on several levels. While his published work is fairly well known, it represents less than 10% of the photographs he made. The rest of his photographs have never been seen by the general public. He worked on hundreds of assignments, and each is represented in the collection in separate envelopes which contain the negatives, Kosti’s write-ups on the shoot, and contact sheets with selected images marked with wax pencil. It’s an amazing backstage look at the photo magazine work process. Kosti was vocal in his write-ups as to his opinion on selects and cropping. He had clear ideas of what he was going for in a shoot, and a study of the contact sheets shows how he went about realizing his vision and his method of approaching a photo story. More than a third of his assignments were Maine-based.

The Penobscot Marine Museum is thrilled to be entrusted with this Maine treasure. We will begin a search for funding that will cover the costs to catalog, re-house and digitize the collection. It will be ultimately be made available to browse for free in the museum’s online database. Kosti’s cousin, Janice Lachance, said “Kosti would be very happy to know his photographs have returned to Maine.”

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