Penobscot Marine Museum is comprised of eight buildings listed on National Register of Historic Buildings grace the grounds at our seacoast village. Complete with a classic New England Town Hall, the First Congregational Church, private residences, and a commercial building, the Village buildings range in date from about 1810-1845.
Come walk the village grounds and enjoy the feeling of imagining how it must have been during this period of elegance and hard work.
Our campus has more than a dozen buildings, five of which house public exhibits and collections. All but one of the buildings date from the first half of the 19th century, to authentically recreate the look and feel of a seaport village from the Great Age of Sail. (See the campus map for details on each building.) All of the exhibit buildings are rather closely spaced, and it’s a lovely place to stroll around. You can have your picnic lunch on the grounds, or simply cross the street for good restaurant fare or snacks.
Small Craft. Working and recreational boats from the early 20th century include a Beals Island lobster boat; a North Haven dinghy; a Lincolnville wherry; a Herreshoff 12 ½; peapods; dories; canoes; marine engines and lots more.
Marine Art. We have a world-class collection of 19th century marine art featuring Thomas and James Buttersworth, Robert Salmon, and Antonio Jacobsen; ship portraits and port paintings from around the world; ships’ figureheads; dioramas and shadowboxes.
Furniture, crafts and domestic furnishings. In addition to domestic manufactures of the 19th century, many Searsport homes were furnished with a wealth of fascinating objects from the Orient, brought back by local sea captains. Our fully-furnished sea captain’s house shows how a 19th century home might have looked, with objects ranging from grandfather clocks and cuff crimpers to “larding needles” (to insert more fat into meat), hooked rugs, traveling desks, Chinese sewing boxes, oil portraits, and a piano with mother-of-pearl keys.
Tools. Artifacts of economic labor abound in the Working The Bay exhibit. You’ll see the tools used by Penobscot Bay’s loggers, farmers, ice harvesters, ship builders and mariners.
Ship Models. You’ll see builder’s half-hull models; large-scale fully-rigged plank-on frame models; exquisite miniatures; a French prisoner’s model made of bone; presentation models; a working steam-powered tug model and more.
Scrimshaw. Our collection includes both inscribed and rare painted whales’ teeth; baleen and walrus ivory objects; and related craft pieces.
Photography. Over 100,000 items, including collections from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company and Atlantic Fisherman; and work by photographers Carroll Thayer Berry, Charles R. Coombs and Joanna Colcord.
Special Exhibits. Every season there are special and temporary exhibits that feature rarely-seen gems from our collections and items on loan.
The museum is definitely child-friendly. Some kids max out quickly at traditional “look, don’t touch” museums, so we’ve got lots of fun stuff to touch and do. And when they’re done with the exhibits, there’s plenty of room to run, play, and picnic on our spacious campus.
Yard in the Yard
What was it like to sail on a square-rigger? Find out in the Yard in the Yard. Kids can steer a real ship’s wheel. Walk around the capstan and listen to its rhythmic clanking as they pretend to raise the anchor. Or climb out on the foot-ropes on a large scale model of a ship’s mast to furl the sail.[/su_column]
Peapod is a play-and-learning area full of hands-on activities. Very young children can dress up in 19th century costumes and shop in a general store of the period; play with ship models, tie knots, or snuggle up with a stuffed animal and a book. (Limited hours during summer camp sessions – please inquire.)[/su_column]
Marine Science Lab
Use a mechanical grappling arm to catch marine life in a mockup of a submersible vehicle, then take your samples into the lab to analyze and identify. Observe real, live lobsters, crabs and starfish, and learn about marine habitats. Create your own fish with an abundance of free craft materials, then take him home as a souvenir.[/su_column]
Look Around – There’s More!
Don’t hesitate to take children through the “adult” exhibits too! There are hands-on activities for children in most exhibit buildings, and kids are often fascinated to see our exhibits of boats, ships, and the way people lived in days gone by.[/su_column]
Built in 1830, the First Congregational Church of Searsport was the spiritual home of many of Searsport’s shipbuilders and sea captains. With its stamped tin interior, glorious stained glass windows, hand-carved pews and remarkable pipe organ, it is unusually ornate.[/su_column]