News

Penobscot Marine Museum Announces Appointment Of New Executive Director: Karen E. Smith, Ph.D., Named After National Search

Karen E. Smith, Ph.D.

Penobscot Marine Museum, a history and arts museum with nationally-recognized collections, announced today that the Board of Trustees elected Karen E. Smith, Ph.D., as Executive Director effective April 19, 2018. Smith will join the Museum from the Cedar Falls Historical Society, where she served as Executive Director for six years.

“After a thorough and deliberate national search process, the Board of Trustees is delighted that Karen will lead our cherished Museum as we adapt to changing interests and needs of our visitors, and to rapid advancements in technology that can enhance public access to our nationally-recognized collections,” said Stephen J. Tall, President of the Board of Trustees. “Karen brings many years’ experience successfully growing the Cedar Falls Historical Society, when it had opportunities and challenges similar to ours. I am confident Karen is the right person at the right time to take the helm and lead our crew.”

While at the Cedar Falls Historical Society, Smith led work to define the society’s strategic vision, developed new public programs, built partnerships with other community organizations, created more hands-on opportunities, and refreshed their brand and marketing. As a result, visitorship increased from 6,400 in 2012 to over 14,400 in 2017.

“I am excited about this opportunity to lead the Penobscot Marine Museum and to further its dynamic, interdisciplinary approach,” said Karen Smith. “I am impressed by the many different ways the Museum preserves and interprets the Penobscot Bay region’s rich marine history throughout its campus and beyond—from its maritime painting and photography collections to its historic sea captain’s house and hands-on learning for all ages. I look forward to working with Stephen and the entire Board, the Museum staff and volunteers, and to becoming a part of the community in the coming months.”

Prior to joining the Historical Society, Smith worked at the Iowa Governor’s Residence as a curatorial research assistant, and the Old Capitol Museum and the Obermann Center, also in Iowa. She previously was a college instructor in writing and rhetoric, and was a volunteer manager and coordinator for a large social services agency. Smith obtained her doctorate in American Studies from the University of Iowa in 2011. She has a B.A. in English from Earlham College in Indiana. Smith grew up in Marion, MA and has family in Maine and New England.

“After considering dozens of candidates from across the country, and giving careful thought to the needs of the Museum, we interviewed and vetted seven highly qualified museum professionals,” said Dianne Smith, trustee and chair of the search committee. “We were fortunate to have a very strong pool of candidates, a testament to the appeal of the region and Searsport, and the significant potential of the Museum to be a world-class institution.”

Penobscot Marine Museum is the oldest maritime museum in Maine. With twelve historic buildings, including a ship captain’s home, housed on its Searsport campus, Penobscot Marine brings Maine maritime history to life. Exhibits include hands-on activities for children and adults, 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. This summer’s exhibit will focus on ship models and their uses. A model pond will provide opportunities to sail and race models. 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’s Visitor Center is located at 2 Church Street in Searsport, Maine. For more information call the Visitors Center 207-548-0334 or Administrative Offices at 207-548-2529.

The Anne Bray Memorial Sailing Fund

Maynard Bray Collection

The Anne Bray Memorial Sailing Fund is a scholarship set up by friends of Anne Bray, who died in March 2018. Anne was a tireless volunteer for Penobscot Marine Museum, and a passionate keeper of the flame of Maine’s Maritime History. She was the founding research director, and librarian, for the WoodenBoat library at WoodenBoat Publications in Brooklin, Maine.

The Anne Bray Memorial Sailing Fund will enable enrollment of a deserving young person between the ages of 16 and 21 in one of the WoodenBoat School’s one-week sailing courses. This will be offered annually for as many seasons as possible.

This year’s course selection is Elements of Sailing, taught by Geoff Kerr and Annie Nixon, which runs from July 1 to 7. Applicants will be reviewed, and one will be selected each year at least a month beforehand.

Donations in support of this endeavor may be mailed to: The Anne Bray Memorial Sailing Fund, Penobscot Marine Museum, P.O. Box 498, Searsport, ME 04974. Please make checks payable to Penobscot Marine Museum, Anne Bray Fund.

Interested applicants should contact Giffy Full, 99 Naskeag Pt. Rd., Brooklin, ME 04616 to express their interest and tell a bit about themselves. Giffy may also be reached at (207)-266-1243.

Cooking with Sea Veggies At Penobscot Marine Museum

Seaweed in Jars, provided by Atlantic Holdfast Seaweed Company

Penobscot Marine Museum presents Cooking with Sea Veggies with Micah Woodcock of Atlantic Holdfast Seaweed Company on Saturday, January 20, 2018, at 2:00 p.m. Attendees will explore the culinary possibilities of Maine’s native sea vegetables and will prepare several dishes using local seaweed. The program is free and open to the public. This free presentation will take place on the Penobscot Marine Museum campus.

Cooking with Sea Veggies continues the conversation begun last summer at Maine Marine Fare about what we take from and eat from the sea off the Maine coast. Woodcock will work with participants to distinguish different seaweed and to learn the uses of each as well as how the seaweeds are harvested, and their culinary, ecological, and economic importance.

Micah Woodcock is the owner/operator of Atlantic Holdfast Seaweed Company, a small business working to sustainably hand-harvest sea vegetables in Penobscot Bay since 2010. Woodcock’s harvesting operation is based on a remote island 7 miles off of Stonington, where the strong currents, active surf, and full exposure to the force of the open ocean have allowed these seaweeds to thrive for millennia.

For more information or to reserve your space, please call Penobscot Marine Museum at 207-548-2529.

National Fisherman 5k3 Rollout At Penobscot Marine Museum

Penobscot Marine museum is excited to announce the unveiling of another wave of 5,000 photographs from the noteworthy National Fisherman Collection. This collection was prepared a cadre of professionals and dogged volunteers. With minor exceptions, the group is complete.

This collection represents several decades of reporting by National Fisherman magazine, a subsidiary of Diversified Communications in Portland, ME. This is a journal with salt on the pages, its stories focused on the sea, the fish, and the characters who make commerce out of the two. It’s been a place for fishermen to learn about new gear and read about other boats and their captains; it has showcased small sailboats and other recreational watercraft; it has described emerging fisheries legislation borne of the best intentions and responses to it by the hardworking constituencies impacted by those policies.

In telling these stories—in pictures and in words—National Fisherman has collaterally mapped a rearward path of technological renaissance, boom economy, the inevitable decline which followed (devastating livelihoods and communities), and the long, varied, creative effort to solve an extremely complex problem.

The Penobscot Marine Museum web portal for the National Fisherman photographs makes it easy to peruse the collection. Sample images are grouped into major categories and numerous subcategories. To these latter, Menhaden, Weirs, and Boat Plans have been added. Many of these saved searches bring up dozens of digitized photos, some more engaging than others. Stay tuned for refinements—there’s a plan to sift through the images so that casual viewing will be more easily rewarded with the best content.

Take note of the Featured Image post; its updated weekly, and wherever possible tells the story behind the picture.

To jump straight to Penobscot Marine Museum’s online database and search the new group of National Fisherman photographs and their descriptions in their entirety, view here.

Kosti Comes Home: Penobscot Marine Museum Acquires Kosti Ruohomaa Photo Collection

Kosti Ruohomaa self portrait series

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.

Stanley Powell of Washington, ME aka “the lobster eater”. One frame of 72 negatives of Powell demonstrating how to eat a lobster.

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.

Portrait of Andrew Wyeth who called Rouhomaa the best photographer 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.”

Night train at Wiscasset Station, perhaps Ruohomaa’s most well known photograph.

Abstract photograph of the catch on a Maine dragger

Penobscot Marine Museum Photo Exhibit Tours Lincoln County

The New Bridge, Wiscasset ME

The Lincoln County Court House will host the Penobscot Marine Museum photo exhibit, Lincoln County Through Eastern’s Eye during the months of August and September. It is the 3rd stop of this traveling exhibit which has spent time now at the Boothbay Railway Museum and the Sheepscot General Store.

During the height of the postcard craze which swept Europe and North America during the early 20th century, a local entrepreneur saw opportunity and founded the Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Company in Belfast, Maine. For more than 40 years, EIP capitalized on the niche created by Herman Cassens by producing “real photo” postcards featuring views of small towns and rural byways throughout the eastern United States.

Eastern photographers roamed the countryside throughout the warm months every year, each photographer well-versed in his sales region. Though they remain largely anonymous, their work, consisting of tens of thousands of large format negatives, has been preserved at Penobscot Marine Museum and has become a peerless photographic survey of small town America in the northeast during the first half of the 20th century. The collection is the subject of a documentary film by Wiscasset filmmaker Sumner McKane, The Northeast by Eastern as well as a book, Maine on Glass by Kevin Johnson, Earle Shettleworth and William H. Bunting.

Wiscasset is the county seat of Lincoln County and a perfect place for this exhibit to be on view. The courthouse is open every weekday from 8:00-4:30 and is free and open to the public. PMM photo archivist Kevin Johnson will give an illustrated slideshow during the exhibit’s stay in Wiscasset and share the story of Eastern Illustrating as well as more images of Wiscasset. Date to be determined so stay tuned!

The Lincoln County Courthouse is located at 32 High Street, Wiscasset, Maine 04578
Call for more info: Carrie Kipfer (207) 882-6311

Maine Marine Fare at Penobscot Marine Museum

Saturday and Sunday, September 9 and 10, Penobscot Marine Museum will host their first Maine Marine Fare in celebration of all the foods from the abundant waters of coastal Maine. The two day program will include talks, panel discussions and educational tastings, featuring fishermen, food producers, aquaculturists, researchers and scientists, and members of the food and hospitality trades.

Noted author Paul Greenberg (Four Fish, American Catch, PBS Frontline’s “The Fish on My Plate”) will be the keynote speaker. A James Beard Award winner, who is also a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation and an avid fisherman. Greenberg will talk about the state of the seas, especially relating to Maine and the abundance (or lack thereof) of our seafood.

Saturday continues with panel sessions featuring fishery stakeholders who will delve deeper into the past of how we ate fish, the present state of the fishery, and future solutions in sustainable wild-caught and farmed seafood. Natalie Springuel from Maine Sea Grant will chair a panel to survey the Gulf of Maine’s wild fisheries and current issues surrounding traditionally harvested species and sustainability. Maine Aquaculture Association’s Sebastian Belle will continue the discussion with a panel devoted to farming the sea in all its aspects— including salmon, yellow-tail, shellfish, sea weeds and vegetables, and a new effort to promote land-based fish farming. The day’s events will conclude with Polly Saltonstall, editor in chief of Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors, and a panel devoted to marketing, as the vital link that connects fish in the sea to fish on the table.

On Sunday chefs and food writers will talk about using local Gulf of Maine seafood in their kitchens. Demonstrations and tastings will show how cooks, including new immigrants, integrate Maine seafood into traditional recipes; there will be an oyster tasting from various points along the Maine coast, and a tasting of a variety of smoked seafood.

Islesboro’s own Sandy Oliver, Maine’s premiere food historian whose specialty is the food traditions of the New England coast, will kick off the day with a talk and demonstration.

A panel of Maine chefs, moderated by journalist/food writer Nancy Harmon Jenkins, will consider what we are eating from our waters now. Panelists will include several James Beard nominees who are innovating with Maine seafood, as well as some non-traditional food personalities who have brought new perspectives to Maine dining.

Cipperly Good, Penobscot Marine Museum Collections Manager/Curator will moderate a panel of Maine journalists who will consider how consumers and producers alike, can support healthy, healthful, sustainable and economically viable Maine fisheries.  

Chef Sam Hayward

Maine Marine Fare will end with a dinner called “Food from Our Seas,” prepared by chef Sam Hayward with the assistance of Ladleah Dunn. Hayward, named “Best Chef in the Northeast” by the James Beard Association, co-owner and executive chef of Fore Street Restaurant in Portland, has been called “Maine’s Food Hero” for his promotion and innovative use of Maine food products from the land, the sea, and everywhere in between. Dunn is a chef, gardener, food consultant, and boat-builder in Lincolnville. 

Tickets are $15 for Saturday’s discussions, $40 for Sunday, including the various demonstrations, and $75 for Sunday night’s dinner. Saturday and Sunday ticket prices include Museum admission. Museum member discounts are available. Click here for more information and complete schedule, or call 207-548-2529.

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