Maine Historical Society

MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY

PRESERVING HISTORY
ENGAGING MINDS
CONNECTING MAINE

A Past Exhibit

"The Camera's Coast: Historic Photographs of Maritime New England"

February 20 — May 30, 2004.

An exhibit of extraordinary maritime photographs opened at the Maine Historical Society (MHS) on Friday, February 20, 2004. Called The Camera's Coast: Historic Photographs of Maritime New England, the exhibit featured over sixty historic images chosen by renowned Maine scholar Bill Bunting from the collections of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA).

George Donnell, York, Maine, circa 1880

George Donnell, York, Maine, circa 1880. Photograph by Emma L. Coleman. Courtesy SPNEA.

In addition, historic artifacts such as ship models, nautical instruments, paintings and other materials from the collections of MHS enhanced the exhibit and provided unique insights into the maritime history of Maine.

"Beginning with the earliest period of European settlement in the 1600s until today, the sea has fundamentally influenced the lives of the people of Maine and New England," noted John Mayer, Museum Curator. "Over time, with changes in technology, economics, and natural resources, the nature of this relationship has been remade, but it still dominates our experiences and shapes our sense of New England and its history."

Taken between the 1870s and 1920s, the photographs provided a vivid look at maritime activities that were common during this period when ships and the sea were a vital part of the New England economy. Included were views of dockworkers and fishermen unloading their catch from Grand Banks fishing schooners from Portland, Gloucester and Boston. Images of shipwrights and carpenters repairing and building vessels suggested the regional importance of the knowledge and skill of these workers. Views of steam–powered ferries, three–masted ships, fishing schooners and trawlers, and recreational sailboats revealed the range of activities seen on the waters of New England.

This exhibit was organized by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA). It is made possible at the Society by the generous support of H.M. Payson & Co. in celebration of its 150th anniversary.