Lectures cover a wide range of maritime topics and are presented by nationally and internationally recognized authors, filmmakers, historians, scientists and other experts in their fields.

Author lectures are followed by a book signing. Books are available in the Museum Shop and may be purchased the night of the lecture.

Tickets are required for all evening lectures

Adult and child tickets are $5 each.
Mariners’ Museum Member tickets are free.

Lectures begin at 7:00 PM  •  Doors open at 6:15 PM

Unless otherwise noted, lectures are held in the Main Lobby of The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

May 15, 2014, Steven Callahan lectured on "Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea."

Above: Steven Callahan, American author and survivor of 76 days adrift at sea, speaking in 2014 at The Mariners’ Museum

Become a Mariners’ Member – attend select lectures for FREE!
To learn more about Member benefits like free admission to select lecture series programs, please visit

Notice About Reservations:

Members will receive free admission to our Lecture Series Programs with reservation. Reservations will be accepted online until 4:00 PM on the day of the lecture as well as available at the door. When placing a reservation over the telephone, leaving a voicemail does not guarantee that your reservation has been accepted. Reserved seating will be held until 6:55 PM (or 5 minutes before the program begins), afterwards seats will be available to all guests.

2016 Lecture Dates & Titles

15 SEP

Hot Water to Cold War: US-Bermuda Relations, 1610 – 1995

Presented by Dr. Edward Harris

Thursday, September 15, 2016 • 7:00 PM

Dr. Edward Harris: Hot Water to Cold War: US-Bermuda Relations, 1610 – 1995

This talk will present some of the historical highlights of the four-century relationship between tiny Bermuda and what became the United States, 600 miles to the east. Dr. Edward Harris was born and raised in Bermuda and, since 1980, has served as director of what is now the National Museum of Bermuda. His archaeological work has led the field for almost 40 years, and in 2001 he was appointed as an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II.

Get Tickets Here

Dr. Edward Harris



The Mariners’ Museum Park: The Early Years, 1929 – 1936

Presented by Rand Milam

Saturday, October 8, 2016 • 10:30 AM

Rand Milam: The Mariners’ Museum Park: The Early Years, 1929 – 1936

In 1929, The Mariners’ Museum founder Archer Huntington decided to surround the Museum with a forested park and grounds to encompass the Waters Creek watershed. The extensive writings and maps relating to the park’s planning, landscaping, and planting demonstrate the immense effort and attention to detail that went into creating this “central park” of the Peninsula. Master Gardener and Tree Steward Rand Milam has been conducting a survey in the Park for over a year, and in this special presentation, he will share his work and help us understand the Park’s historical and botanical significance.

Cost: Free with General Admission

Rand Milam



The James River

Presented by William Fox

Thursday, November 3, 2016 • 7:00 PM

William Fox: The James River

In 2007, House Resolution 16 of the 110th Congress named the James River as “America’s Founding River.” The river runs for 340 miles entirely in Virginia, from the Allegheny Mountains to Hampton Roads and the Chesapeake Bay. William Fox’s new book, The James River, seeks to raise awareness about this great river and its history while helping protect and preserve it for the future. Author and naval architect, Fox was born in Newport News and has lived, worked, and recreated on or near the James River for most of his life.

Get Tickets Here

William Fox, at Balcony Falls



The Finest Hours

Presented by Michael Tougias

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 • 7:00 PM

Michael Tougias: The Finest Hours

Michael Tougias

Michael Tougias On February 18, 1952, an astonishing maritime event began when a ferocious nor’easter split a 500-foot-long oil tanker, the Pendleton, in half approximately one mile off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Incredibly, just 20 miles away, a second oil tanker, the Fort Mercer, also split in half.

On both fractured tankers men were trapped on the severed bows and sterns, and all four sections were sinking in 60-foot seas. Thus began a life and death drama of survival, heroism, and a series of tragic mistakes. Of the 84 seamen aboard the tankers, 70 would be rescued, and 14 would lose their lives.

Get Tickets Here

The Finest Hours book cover



Infamy: The Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor

Presented by Dr. Craig Symonds

Thursday, December 8, 2016 • 7:00 PM

Dr. Craig Symonds: Infamy– The Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor

2016 marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, one of the pivotal events of the 20th century and indeed of world history because it changed the course and possibly even the outcome of World War II. This talk, presented by Dr. Craig L. Symonds, will discuss the reasons why Japan chose to make the fateful decision to attack, what and how much the Americans knew or suspected, and details of the attack itself from the point of view of both sides. Symonds is a Professor of History Emeritus at the United States Naval Academy and is the author or editor of 28 books.

Get Tickets Here

Dr. Craig Symonds


The Mariners’ Museum Lecture Series is made possible, in part, by support from:

Hunnicutt Lecture Fund
WHRO Public Media logo
Ferguson Cares logo

Civil War Lectures

This occasional series highlights the continuing story of the USS Monitor, which is unfolding everyday in the Batten Conservation Complex at The Mariners’ Museum. Mariners’ Museum and NOAA curatorial and conservation staff will present these informative, illustrated presentations in the Museum’s Explorers Theater Saturday afternoons at 2:30 PM.

Civil War lectures are free with Museum admission, but reserving a seat is suggested as seating is limited. Reserve seats online –see each lecture below, or call (757) 591-7789 or email


Saturday, February 13, 2016 @ 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Presented by: Will Hoffman, Conservation Project Manager and Senior Conservator

“View the Monitor Through Photos”

Although there aren’t any known photographs of the interior of USS Monitor showing spaces such as the officer’s quarters or engine room and its machinery; much of the interior of the ironclad can still be seen through other documentation of the period such as photographs of other ironclad, drawing, and engravings etc. Please join us on an hour long tour through the “Cheesebox-on-a-raft” and get an inside view of the ship! Learn why people lined up to see the inside of this revolutionary vessel!

Saturday, March 12, 2016 @ 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Presented by: Hannah Piner, Coordinator, USS Monitor Center & Foundation

“New Navy Monitors”

At the turn of the 20th century, the US Navy made 10 “New Navy” Monitors. The first five were rebuilt from parts of Civil War Monitors, but were completely redesigned. These ships were slightly more sea-worthy than their predecessors, but were already outdated by the time of their manufacture. This was due, in large part, to their completion timelines which sometimes took more than 20 years. However, the Navy continued to use these ships until 1937. The USS Monitor, CSS Virginia, and other ironclads made a lasting impression on the US Navy that continues even today.

Saturday April 9, 2016 @ 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Presented by: Chelsea Freeland, Maritime Archaeologist

“A Statistical Study of Modern Greece cargo: Blockade Running off Fort Fisher, NC”

On June 27, 1862, the blockade-runner Modern Greece ran aground off the coast of Wilmington, NC. Modern Greece was within reach of the guns of Fort Fisher, protecting the vessel from the Union blockaders attempting to ignite the ship and its goods. But, not all of the cargo was salvaged from the ship during the war. There are several hypotheses for why only some of the cargo was saved: from a surplus of supplies in Wilmington to an unknown force stopping the salvage attempts. Why were some materials saved, while others were left to the sea?

Saturday May 14, 2016 @ 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Presented by: John V. Quarstein, Director, USS Monitor Center & Foundation

“Ramming Speed – The Rise & Fall of the Ram as a Naval Weapon”

The advent of ship-mounted artillery, as proven during the 7 October, 1571 battle of Lepanto, proved the power of musket and cannon over ram and crossbow. It was Confederate Secretary of the Navy, Stephen Russell Mallory, who recognized that, if you built a shot-proof warship, it would be capable of ramming enemy ships without fear of destruction. Consequently, rams became a feature in every Confederate warship and influenced ship design until the introduction of the HMS Dreadnought in 1906, which featured long range heavy (10-inch) guns.

Saturday June 11, 2016 @ 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Presented by: Will Hoffman, Conservation Project Manager and Senior Conservator

“Where are we in the conservation of the Turret?”

Here at the Monitor Center we often get asked, “What’s happening with the treatment of the turret?” To hear the answer to that question, this presentation is for you! The lecture will discuss the treatment of the turret to date and describe the current and projected plans for the long-term preservation of the giant artifact.

Saturday July 9, 2016 @ 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Presented by: Elsa Sangouard, Conservator, USS Monitor Project

“Going Through the Batten Conservation Complex’s Lab Fridge”

In addition to the large number of metal artifacts in the USS Monitor collection, there are also about 700 organic-based objects. Ranging from common gaskets containing fabric to sophisticated garments and wooden gun tools, all of these artifacts spend some time in our walk-in refrigerator before being conserved; some of them are still there awaiting treatment. This presentation will provide an overview of the vast organic collection recovered from the Monitor’s wreck site and discuss how conservators within the Batten Conservation Complex at The Mariners’ Museum and Park are stabilizing these artifacts for future generations. The conservation treatment of a wool pea coat recovered from the turret in 2002 will be highlighted.

Saturday August 13, 2016 @ 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Presented by: Lesley Haines, Assistant Conservator, USS Monitor Project

“Fugitive Slaves and the Use of Steamships and Small Crafts to Escape in the 1850’s”

The Underground Railroad is a well-known topic within American society, but the maritime routes used by fugitive slaves to escape are often overlooked. By re-examining William Still’s The Underground Railroad Records (1872) and using relevant archival material relating to the port of Philadelphia, two main uses of waterways becomes apparent; the individual hiding on commercial passenger steamers and captains of small vessels bringing groups of slaves northward. This paper focuses on one steamer, the City of Richmond, as its career parallels the issue of the fugitive slave between the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861.

Saturday September 10, 2016 @ 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Presented by: Will Hoffman, Conservation Project Manager and Senior Conservator, & Laurie King, Assistant Conservator, USS Monitor Project

“Keeping It Cool – Using Dry-Ice Cleaning in the Conservation of the USS Monitor Artifacts”

The conservation of artifacts recovered from a marine environment can often be quite challenging; largely because of the unique seafloor burial conditions of the objects. Therefore, during the conservation process, new techniques and methods are developed to overcome difficult treatment challenges. This presentation will discuss the use of dry-ice cleaning to remove corrosion from archaeological metal artifacts from the USS Monitor. Hear about how conservators identified the technique was safe, for the artifacts and the conservators, as well as how it will accelerate the Monitor conservation project.

Saturday October 8, 2016 @ 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Presented by: Kate Sullivan, Conservator, USS Monitor Project

“Why Composite Artifacts are Tricky to Conserve”

Despite the USS Monitor being an iron ship, there was a large quantity of organic material recovered during excavations such as wood, rope, leather and rubber. Individually the treatment of these materials is reasonably straightforward. When an artifact is made up of multiple materials that cannot be separated, usually a combination of metals and organics, conservation treatment of these composite artifacts becomes more complicated. This presentation will discuss research being conducted in the USS Monitor Conservation laboratory on the treatment of composite artifacts.

Saturday November 12, 2016 @ 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Presented by: Joe Hoyt, NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary Archaeologist

“3-D Monitor: the use of 3-D technology to map a shipwreck”

Want to experience what it’s like at the Monitor‘s wreck site? Or maybe at a WWII U-boat? This lecture enables you to experience sites like these without having to strap on scuba gear! NOAA archaeologist, Joe Hoyt, will discuss ongoing work within the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary and at other wreck sites within the Graveyard of the Atlantic using 3-D imagining techniques.

Saturday December 10, 2016 @ 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Presented by: John V. Quarstein, Director, USS Monitor Center & Foundation

“Gibraltar of the Confederacy – Fort Fisher”

Wilmington, North Carolina on the Cape Fear River was perhaps the most effective blockade runners’ port – trading cotton and tobacco for munitions, medicines, clothing, and other war material. Located 29 miles upriver from the Atlantic Ocean, it was defended by a series of forts of which the most important was Fort Fisher. Named for Colonel Charles Fisher of the 6th North Carolina, who was killed at 1st Manassas, the fort was the largest seacoast earthen fortification in the world. The Federals endeavored to capture the fort 23-27 December 1864 by a joint operation commanded by Major General Benjamin Butler and Rear Admiral David Porter; yet, the expedition failed. A second amphibious assault descended on Fort Fisher on 13-15 January 1865. This assault successfully closed the last port available to support the Confederate armies in the east.