Museum Exhibits

Current Exhibits

In celebration of Maine’s bicentennial, join us for an inspirational look at Mainers at the forefront of exploration, innovation, and conservation. This collaborative exhibit will present Maine’s maritime heritage through the eyes of its modern leaders, chosen by partner organizations representing a range of Maine’s maritime themes. These leaders will choose objects from museum’s collection that they feel best represents their field. The objects, and their stories, will be featured in the exhibit. Funded in part by a grant from the Maine Bicentennial Commission. Sponsored by:

Weaving fork. Bobbin. Pinking scissors. These tools are the extension of any weaver, embroiderer, or seamstress’s hand; as familiar as an adze or auger to a shipbuilder.  As shipwrights applied their skill in the shipyard, another realm of power and influence operated in support of Maine’s maritime prowess – the domestic sphere. Social reputation in Maine’s age of sail was a critical component in the economic success among the leading shipbuilding families. When contracts and clients are on the line, an image of prestige crafted from the art of entertaining, fashion, and domestic decorum can make or break your business. This exhibit brings together fiber arts from the 19th century and today to trace the threads of power and change in gender roles and social norms in the domestic spaces of maritime Maine. Featured Artists: Barbara Burns, Crystal Cawley, Janet Conner, Kathleen Goddu, Jill Snyder-Wallace   This exhibit is part of the Donnell Family Forum, a series of exhibits, workshops, and lectures inspired by the lives of the Donnells, a 19th century family whose home is now a part of Maine Maritime Museum.   The Donnell Family Forum is sponsored by

The brutal Maine winter has provided the natural resources and setting to create industries and pastimes, from ice harvesting to ice boating. Kennebec River ice was hawked as the premier grade from Queens to Cuba.

Wrecks and abandoned hulks of historic vessels dot the coast of Maine. Seventy-five years ago visible hulks like Wiscasset’s Hesper and Luther Little were a common sight.Twenty-five years ago they were a novelty. Now they are a rarity. This immersive exhibit explores the maritime archaeology of Maine—its sites, its preservation, and the technologies that allow undersea exploration and exploitation, past and present. The exhibit will challenge visitors to consider how and why these sites should be preserved and the complicated role museums play as both stewards and showcases for these artifacts.   Generously sponsored by:

Permanent Exhibits

Experience what life in Bath was like during the Victorian era in the Donnell House, an 1892 shipyard owner’s home. As your tour the interior, docents will introduce you to the Donnells, one of Bath’s shipbuilding families. The house that stands today reflects the fortune that the family patriarch, William T. Donnell, made from his company. The interior of the home is set in period décor including numerous items that belonged to the family. The Donnell House is open daily Memorial Day to Columbus Day, 11 am to 4 pm.

Step aboard the historic schooner Mary E and learn about her amazing history. Originally built in Bath in 1906 as a fishing schooner, she has also served as a cargo carrier, a passenger-carrying windjammer, and even rumored to have been a rum runner. Mary E was restored in the museum’s historic shipyard in 2017/2018. Our skilled docents will share stories of her past and discuss the recent restoration efforts that will preserve her for future generations. On deck tours run daily, Memorial Day to Columbus Day, 10 am to 4 pm. Sails aboard the Mary E are offered from late May through October.

Our core exhibit gives the visitor a broad overview of Maine maritime history. Our core exhibit uses more than 240 objects to give the viewer a general idea of Maine maritime history.

Maine Maritime Museum includes a unique historic site. The Percy & Small Shipyard at Maine Maritime Museum is America’s only surviving shipyard site where large wooden sailing vessels were built

New in 2018, this permanent exhibit, produced in collaboration with Bath Iron Works, provides an immersive, high-tech look at the people, processes, and ships of BIW.

MMM’s collection of small craft number more than 140 iconic Maine-built or Maine-related boats from a rare antique birchbark canoe to Andrew Wyeth’s Friendship sloop.

Showing in the MMM Boatshop, this retrospective provides a glimpse of one of the roots of what has become known as the “wooden boat revival.”

Into the Lantern: A Lighthouse Experience, a full-scale replication of the Cape Elizabeth Two Lights lighthouse tower lantern room, allows visitors to see the original second-order Fresnel lens from the east tower at Two Lights

The historic Percy & Small Shipyard is the only intact shipyard in the United States where large wooden sailing ships were built. The shipyard was complete with its original buildings, except for one – the blacksmith shop, which was torn down in 1939.

Much has changed in Maine’s lobstering industry in the last three decades, yet it remains a colorful and central part of both the coastal landscape and Maine’s fishing economy.

Upcoming Exhibits

Past Exhibits

Coming soon!

Music and the sea play in harmony. Shanties help synchronize the efforts of a ship’s crew. Patriotic marches promote commerce and the navy. Folk songs tell tales of shipwrecks and storms. This exhibit presents sheet music, instruments, and recordings that helped compose the symphony of the sea, while offering some surprising new performances—have you ever heard a modern, a cappella rendition of a sea shanty? With support from the Maine Humanities Council and the Maine Arts Commission

The accomplished marine painter Charles Robert Patterson painted a narrative series of four paintings of the Downeaster Henry B. Hyde. These paintings were commissioned by John Holmes Hyde—a man who had sold his family’s shipbuilding business—to decorate his Elmhurst estate. This exhibit reunites these paintings and considers their significance both to Patterson and Hyde. Letters and news accounts reveal an interesting dynamic between an artist and patron.

The Helen and Claus Hoie Charitable Foundation’s recent donation of a number of Hoie’s watercolors allows us to celebrate the vision of this notable 20th-century artist who drew so deeply upon the sea for inspiration. Hoie’s seafaring family origins inspired a long lifetime of painting sailing vessels, fish, whalers, and Moby-Dick, among other subjects. The idea of a “fantasia” (a mixture of forms and styles) fits the varied styles of Claus Hoie (1911-2007), who sometimes incorporated a variety of elements such as text from logbooks into his artworks.

“The islands” were regular trading stops in the days of sail, and Maine mariners and their families came to know the region well. Using objects of trade, accounts, personal sketches, artworks, photographs, and souvenirs, this exhibit explores this long-standing relationship of Maine seafarers with a vastly different region that is not very far away. It introduces more recent perspectives through the mid-20th century paintings of Stephen Etnier (1903-1984), a sailor himself who traveled south for decades.