OPEN DAILY 9:30 to 5

Museum Exhibits

Current Exhibits

Dr. Charles Burden (1933-2020) is almost synonymous with Maine Maritime Museum. He set up the first exhibits in 1964, fundraised for the museum’s various iterations and locations, and acquired thousands of items that he in turn donated to the museum over his 50+ years of involvement. Charlie’s giving makes up the Burden Collection in the museum’s holdings. It is notable for its size, breadth, and variance. His donations range from steamer timetables to ship portraits, shipboard medicines to folk art made by sailors at sea, board games to rare books, and everything in between. This exhibit showcases a small taste of Charlie’s generosity over the years.

2021 marks the 50th anniversary of Maine Maritime Museum’s stewardship in preserving the Percy & Small Shipyard site, and the stories that shaped American shipbuilding.

Illustrator, writer, painter, and photographer Sidney Marsh Chase (American, 1877-1957) contributed widely to Maine’s maritime culture.

The printed image moved ideas and beliefs faster than a clipper. From sailing cards to shellback certificates, mass-produced images shaped the maritime world.

The Gulf of Maine and its watershed are unique. They have played a large role in the state’s development and humans have played a large part in how they have changed.

Sea chests provided a secure place for sailors to store their personal belongings—from everyday essentials to exotic curios. This exhibit examines the function and decoration of these chests and allows visitors to take a glimpse of the items that could be stored within.

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.

Permanent Exhibits

Renovated in 2021, this permanent exhibit houses the last remaining example of an American clipper ship. Launched in Portland in 1851, Snow Squall –like all clippers — was built for speed with a sharp, narrow hull, and an enormous amount of sail.

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.

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.

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.

Upcoming Exhibits

This interactive exhibit will look at the techniques that museum professionals use to authenticate artifacts—provenance research, connoisseurship, UV analysis, and hyperspectral imaging. The exhibit will also explore the complex ethical issues surrounding authentication. Using tools and information hidden throughout the gallery, visitors will be able to conduct their own investigation of an artifact to test their skills.

This fall, Maine Maritime Museum and Bowdoin College’s Africana Studies Department are embarking on a new collaboration that will investigate the complexities inherent in an underrepresented aspect of Maine maritime history: the Atlantic slave trade. The project will culminate in a student-curated exhibit investigating Maine’s contribution to the trafficking of enslaved people through the 19th-century shipbuilding industry and the lives of Black mariners working and living within this chapter of US history. Students will utilize items from the museum’s collection to reevaluate traditional narratives and amplify the untold stories of Maine’s maritime past. This project has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.

Arthur Beaumont: Art of the Sea celebrates Beaumont’s long career as the US Navy’s Official Artist. These 53 paintings and drawings of mostly US Navy subjects cover his more than 50-year career. Beaumont received his commission as a lieutenant in the United States Navy in 1933 and was appointed as the official artist of the United States Fleet. He served in an official capacity and as a freelance artist for the Navy until his death 45 years later, in 1978. This exhibition is on loan from the Irvine Museum. Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Maritime Museum.

Past Exhibits

In celebration of Maine’s bicentennial, join us for an inspirational look at Mainers at the forefront of exploration, innovation, and conservation.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Maine Maritime Museum