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OPEN DAILY 9:30 to 5

Museum Exhibits

Current Exhibits

Maine Maritime Museum has cultivated a collection of over 20,000 objects related to the state’s extensive maritime history and global influence. While the collection has consistently grown over the last sixty years, only 5% is currently exhibited.  As a result, the majority of the collection has remained inaccessible to the public – both physically and digitally. The stories the objects tell, which shed light on the cultural and historical identity of Maine and its waterways, have too. Thanks to a grant awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in 2021, the museum is striving to chart a new course and significantly expand access to these stories, one object at a time.  

Gulf of Maine EcoArts and Maine Maritime Museum have debuted SeaChange: Darkness & Light in the Gulf of Maine, a year-long art and natural science exhibition that immerses visitors into the rich ecosystem of Cashes Ledge in the Gulf of Maine to invite reflection on our collective human impact on our shared oceans in hopes of preserving their future.

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.

Upcoming Exhibits

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A collaboration between Dianne Ballon and Maine Maritime Museum that investigates the significant role of sound in maritime environments. The exhibition will encourage visitors to think critically about the soundscapes they encounter along Maine’s coast and how they contribute to them.

Maine camps are as much a tradition as they are a place. They are the embodiment of leisure and sport. But most importantly, Maine camps are an immense cultural resource deeply intertwined with the state’s natural resources. This exhibition will investigate the rise of Maine’s sporting and leisure camp tradition and how the state’s inland waterways have contributed to its popularity.

Permanent Exhibits

The Watercraft Restoration Center is a working exhibit in the bottom level of the Boatshop. Upon entry, visitors are directed along a viewing platform that rises gently along the south wall, offering multiple vantages of vessels under construction and restoration.  The platform turns 90 degrees to allow longitudinal views of the vessels, as well as the Center’s workbenches and tools. Visitors will get the chance to observe and engage with staff and volunteers as they restore, reproduce, and preserve vessels in our collection, commissions, and donated boats to be sold. The Center not only increases our total watercraft exhibit space, it provides an additional interactive exhibit.

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.

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.

Past Exhibits

Eric Darling: Drift Rope Project  Midcoast-based artist, Eric Darling, is pioneering a new frontier of upcycled art with his elaborate pot warp designs. Using the worn and brightly colored pot warp - or rope - cast-off by local lobstermen, Darling hopes to “create art with a mission” by recycling one of Maine’s largest industries’ waste into fine art. This exhibition showcases the versatility of pot warp as an artistic medium in both two and three-dimensional pieces, many of which will be on public display for the first time. Learn more about Eric Darling's work:

In Spring 2023, first-year students at Maine College of Art & Design (MECA&D) participated in a seminar titled, Boundless Deep: Maritime Inspired Making. Co-taught by museum staff and MECA&D faculty, this course introduced academic research into students’ creative studio practice. As part of this process, each student chose an artifact from Maine Maritime Museum’s collection to research and serve as creative inspiration for a body of studio work.

A showcase of student work and creativity celebrating a year of collaborative learning from the museum’s education team and our community partners. Programs represented in this exhibition are the collaboration between Maine Maritime Museum and ArtVan, Sense of Place with RSU1 (our local public school district), and Sea Connections, our newest education initiative bringing museum educators to classrooms all across Maine.

Within the museum’s photography collection lies the work of three remarkable women—Emma D. Sewall (1836–1919), Josephine Ginn Banks (1863–1958), and Abbie F. Minott (1874–1944). Descendants of shipbuilding and seafaring families in the southern Midcoast and Penobscot Bay regions, these women captured striking images of Maine’s landscapes, industries, and communities towards the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Their photographs provide a unique opportunity to step back in time, and this December, the museum will open a new exhibition featuring their photography together for the first time.

Maine Maritime Museum is the steward of over 20,000 objects related to Maine’s maritime heritage and its direct global impact, from prehistory to the present. For the past year, these artifacts have benefitted from an Institute for Museum and Library Services: Museums for America grant to complete inventory, cataloging, and digitization activities. The project will provide the museum with substantially improved intellectual and physical control for more than 9,000 objects in our principal collection storage space, resulting in increased access and improved collection care.

Starting in 1895 and continuing sporadically until his death in 1910, Winslow Homer painted a series of startling seascapes. Interpreting Homer finding solace on the Maine shore, artist Zach Horn will make four different installation-based works that will show the same rhythmic beauty, breadth, and sublimity of the sea as observed at Pemaquid Point. The project will include stop motion animation, painting and projections. Generously supported by  Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust and Bath Savings.

The artists featured in Uncharted: Maine Artists | Maine Waters use their chosen media to question, challenge, and celebrate our human relationship with the sea. In this unprecedented moment, humans are witnessing a rapid change in the oceans and the environmental systems that we have come to rely on for resources for – and respite from – our everyday lives.

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. Generously supported by The First, Cunningham Security, and Bath Savings.

Last fall, Maine Maritime Museum and Bowdoin College’s Africana Studies Department embarked on a new collaboration that investigated the complexities inherent in an underrepresented aspect of Maine maritime history: the Atlantic slave trade. The project culminated 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 and after this chapter of US history. Students interpreted items from the museum’s collection to reevaluate traditional narratives and amplify the untold stories of Maine’s maritime past.

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.

Maine Maritime Museum