SEARSPORT, Maine — Like many historical museums, Penobscot Marine Museum, located on a downtown Searsport campus of 12 buildings, is primarily a keeper and interpreter of objects, tangible evidence of the past — in PMM’s case, the storied maritime culture of Penobscot Bay. But in recent years, the museum has become keeper, preserver and source of something perhaps even more compelling — a true window on the past, opened via digitized documentary photography.
PMM’s Eastern Illustrating & Publishing collection is known around the state and beyond, thanks to the popular, custom-tailored to specific towns/counties “Through Eastern’s Eye” exhibitions and slideshow talks. Its glass negatives and the rural-life stories they tell have been joined by other photography collections in PMM's growing photo archives, overseen by Kevin Johnson and fellow photo archivist Matt Wheeler; digitized with the help of volunteers, and organized by the museum’s cataloging staff. The results can be viewed and searched online, and many images can be ordered as prints.
Latest to hit the museum’s collection of online photo databases is a new batch of images from National Fisherman, a periodical that consolidated early regional fishing papers, notably Atlantic Fisherman (whose photographs also reside at PMM). This second posting of National Fisherman images — the first was last spring — offers some 5,000 digitized photographs.