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Museum Exhibits

Upcoming Exhibits

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.

Opening Winter 2023, Gulf of Maine EcoArts and Maine Maritime Museum will debut 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.

Current Exhibits

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. The funds cover expenses for imaging accessories, supplies and equipment for object handling and storage, and most importantly – the salaries of two Collection Specialists to complete these crucial behind-the-scenes tasks.

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.

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.

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.

Past Exhibits

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.

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.

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.

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

Maine Maritime Museum