Bath museum's latest exhibit is nod to its roots

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BATH — It started 53 years ago as a history book project.

Now, the Maine Maritime Museum has grown into an institution known around the world.

Its latest exhibit, “Ocean Bound: Three Centuries of Library Treasures,” showcases the 243 Washington St. museum’s research library, cultivated by Bath community members who wanted to publish a book that covered the Kennebec River region’s maritime history.

“I wanted to demonstrate for our visitors the breadth and depth of the research library collection,” Nathan Lipfert, the museum’s senior curator, said Jan. 23 in an email. “This organization was started in the first place to support the writing and publishing of a book – ‘A Maritime History of Bath, Maine and the Kennebec River Region’ – so building a research library has been a priority from the beginning.”

The exhibit, which runs through May 25, displays the “greatest hits” of the library’s collection, sorted by categories such as manuscripts, photographs and charts, while additional sections “will present some of the most compelling stories that illustrate Maine’s special place in world maritime affairs told through combinations of multiple types of documents,” according to the exhibit’s page at mainemaritimemuseum.org.

Most people do not see the library’s offerings unless they are conducting research there, but even that can be the tip of the iceberg.

For example, Lipfert said, an item in the collection that pertains to the mutiny on the British ship HMS Bounty, a 1789 event since made famous in books, and on stage and screen. The library has a copy of Capt. Bligh’s account of events related to that mutiny, collected by a Maine resident serving as a diplomat to Pacific island nations.

Also shown are photographs showing the construction of World War II Liberty Ships, as well as plans for a Cold War-era destroyer built next door to the museum at Bath Iron Works, and a contract for the building in Waldoboro of a five-mast schooner.

“There are about 1,000 items in this exhibit (some are displayed in large groups, not individually), and I only stopped there because I ran out of exhibit cases and square-footage,” Lipfert said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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Maine Maritime Museum’s latest exhibit, “Ocean Bound: Three Centuries of Library Treasures,” showcases the Bath institution’s research library.

Portland, Bath museums collaborate on the War of 1812

BATH — Maine Maritime Museum’s work stretches far beyond its Mid-Coast headquarters.

The museum, which took over the financially strapped Portland Harbor Museum in 2010, is collaborating with the Portland Museum of Art on Saturday, Feb. 21, to present a lecture called “Fortunes Lost and Won: Maine’s Maritime History and the War of 1812.”

James Nelson, former education coordinator for the Bath museum, will talk about the naval war’s impact on the history of Portland. The illustrated presentation will use items from the museum’s collection.

The talk will be held at the Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Square, at 11 a.m. It is free for members of both the Bath and Portland museums, and $5 for non-members.

Log onto portlandmuseum.org for more information.

Alex Lear

This log book from 1765 is the earliest in the collection of the Maine Maritime Museum, showcased in the Bath institution’s latest exhibit, “Ocean Bound: Three Centuries of Library Treasures,” which runs through May.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.