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


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

2017 Lecture Dates & Titles


18 JAN

Echoes from the Deep: Investigating an American WWII Naval Battlefield

Presented by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Monitor National Marine Sanctuary

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 • 7:00 PM

NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary: Echoes from the Deep: Investigating an American WWII Naval Battlefield

This past August, our friends at NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary launched an expedition to explore the deep water shipwreck sites of the German U-576 and the freighter Bluefields off the coast of North Carolina. Discovered by NOAA in 2014, the shipwrecks represent the only WWII battlefield off the U.S. East Coast where the aggressor and its casualty, from the same engagement, lie nearly side by side on the seafloor. Using two small submersibles, the NOAA team acquired exciting new images of the sites by using laser scanners, multi-beam sonar, and photogrammetry to create models of the shipwrecks and virtually raise them from the seafloor. The virtual models will now help NOAA share this history with the public and shed light on a little known chapter of WWII. While NOAA archaeologists documented the sites, marine biologists studied the habitat of the natural resources on the shipwrecks and the surrounding area. The combination of the two objectives gave NOAA a more complete picture of the marine environment and the current state of the shipwrecks preservation.

Tickets Coming Soon!



Nathaniel Bowditch and the Power of Numbers

Presented by Tamara Thornton

Sunday, March 9, 2017 • 7:00 PM

Tamara Thornton: Nathaniel Bowditch and the Power of Numbers

Tamara Plakins Thornton delves into the life and work of Nathaniel Bowditch, a man Thomas Jefferson once called a “meteor in the hemisphere.” Bowditch was a mathematician, astronomer, navigator, seafarer, and business executive whose Enlightenment-inspired perspectives shaped 19th-century capitalism while transforming American life. By examining Bowditch’s pathbreaking approaches to institutions, as well as the political and social controversies they provoked, Thornton’s biography sheds new light on the rise of capitalism, American science, and social elites in the early republic.

Tickets Coming Soon!


23 MAR

The Mathews Men

Presented by William Geroux

Thursday, March 23, 2017 • 7:00 PM

William Geroux: The Mathews Men

Mathews County, Virginia, is a remote outpost on the Chesapeake Bay — but it sent an unusually large concentration of sea captains to fight in World War II. The Mathews Men tells that heroic story through the experiences of one extraordinary family whose seven sons (and their neighbors), all U.S. merchant mariners, suddenly found themselves squarely in the cross-hairs of the U-boats bearing down on the coastal United States in 1942.

Tickets Coming Soon!



So Close To Home

Presented by Michael Tougias

Monday, April 3, 2017 • 7:00 PM

Michael Tougias: So Close To Home

On May 19, 1942, a German U-boat in the Gulf of Mexico stalked its prey 50 miles off New Orleans. The ship had her sights set on the freighter Heredia. Aboard were 59 people; most were merchant seamen, but there were also a handful of civilians. Fast asleep in their berth, the Downs family had no notice that two torpedoes were heading their way. When the ship exploded, all four members of the family were separated from each other. More than half the crew and passengers aboard the Heredia perished, but incredibly, after 15 hours in the ocean — facing sharks, hypothermia, drowning, and dehydration — all members of the Downs family survived and were reunited.

Tickets Coming Soon!



America’s Cup in Bermuda

Presented by Jack Griffin

Thursday, May 4, 2017 • 7:00 PM

Jack Griffin: America’s Cup in Bermuda

What’s the big deal with the America’s Cup? Why do people care so much, and what makes this race so special? Jack Griffin shares the history of the Cup, what it takes to win the race, and what to expect at this year’s event in Bermuda. Griffin is Editor of Cup Experience, a unique newsletter and website dedicated to audience engagement for the America’s Cup. His book, Turning the Tide, provides the definitive account of how Oracle Team USA mounted their comeback to defend the America’s Cup in San Francisco in 2013. Jack is also the guest curator for our upcoming exhibition, Cat Fight: How Technology Wins the America’s Cup.

Tickets Coming Soon!

Get the VIP Experience!

Upgrade your membership level today to receive an invitation to the President’s Reception that will precede certain lectures. Contact Development at (757) 591-7715 for additional information.

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

Hunnicutt Lecture Fund
WHRO Public Media 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.