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 MarinersMuseum.org/Membership.

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.

2017 Fall Lecture Dates & Titles


28 SEP

Film Screening and Discussion of Tidewater

Presented by Movie Director Roger Sorkin, U.S. Navy Capt. Dean VanderLey, and Retired U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Ann Phillips

Thursday, September 28, 2017 • 7:00 PM

Film Screening and Discussion of Tidewater

With 14 military installations spread across 17 local jurisdictions, Hampton Roads has the highest concentration of military assets in the country. One in six residents are associated with our nation’s defense. Our homes, schools, hospitals, and families are increasingly struggling to keep up with the effects of rising waters, and the military and all the surrounding municipalities are working towards a solution in the name of strengthening national security and enhancing economic prosperity. Tidewater examines the innovative problem-solving model being attempted by local and military leaders, and it explores how these strategies can ensure the continued strength of our national security, along with the prosperity of the region and the nation.

Buy Tickets Online

Tidewater documentary poster


26 OCT

Pirate Women: The Princesses, Prostitutes, and Privateers Who Ruled the Seven Seas

Presented by Author Laura Sook Duncombe

Thursday, October 26, 2017 • 7:00 – 9:00 PM

Pirate Women: The Princesses, Prostitutes, and Privateers Who Ruled the Seven Seas

Pirates dominate the popular imagination, from Halloween costumes to the silver screen, but there is much more to the story than parrots and peg legs. Author Laura Sook Duncombe sheds light on a forgotten corner of pirate history—the women who sailed the seven seas alongside (and sometimes in command of) their pirate brethren. Pirate women existed virtually everywhere pirate men did, yet they are often left off the record. This presentation explores why that might be, as well as separates facts from fiction of many popular pirate tales. Duncombe will discuss the lives and legends of many pirate women, including the notorious Anne Bonny and Mary Read, as well as some lesser known North American pirate women.

Buy Tickets Online

Pirate Women book cover


30 NOV

History Below the Waves: Shipwrecks of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Presented by Jeff Gray, Superintendent of NOAA’s Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Thursday, November 30, 2017 • 7:00 – 9:00 PM

History Below the Waves: Shipwrecks of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Preserved by the cold freshwater on which they once served, more than 200 shipwrecks are believed to rest in Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The sheer number of shipwrecks is impressive. However, it is their excellent state of preservation and what they represent—a century and a half of maritime commerce and travel on the Great Lakes—that make them truly special.

Jeff Gray, the superintendent of TBNMS, will take us on a freshwater journey to a time when schooner and steamer ruled the Great Lakes. We will explore some of the nation’s best preserved shipwrecks and how the sanctuary is working through research and education efforts to protect the Great Lakes and their rich history for future generations.

Buy Tickets Online

Credit: Tane Casserley, NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary


14 DEC

Njinga of Angola: Africa’s Warrior Queen

Presented by Linda Heywood

Thursday, December 14, 2017 • 7:00 PM

Njinga of Angola: Africa’s Warrior Queen

Queen Njinga of Angola was one of the great rulers of the 17th century, a woman who rivaled Elizabeth I and Catherine the Great in political cunning and military prowess. This lecture will explore the political and religious dimensions of Queen Njinga’s life, as she dealt with Portuguese governors, the Dutch West India Company, and European missionaries. We’ll also take a look at Njinga’s legacy in the United States and how some Afro-American writers and artists have presented the story of Queen Njinga to readers and theater-going audiences.

Linda Heywood photoLinda Heywood is a professor of African History and the History of the African Diaspora and African American Studies at Boston University. She is the author of several books on African history and has served as a consultant for museums such as the Smithsonian Institution, Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, and The Mariners’ Museum. She is currently a consultant to Henry Louis Gates’ new PBS series African Civilizations.

Buy Tickets Online


Get Connected

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.

Special thanks to our lecture sponsors:

Virginia Health Services logo
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 on 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.

12 AUG

19th Century Naval Ordnance

Presented by John V. Quarstein, Director Emeritus, USS Monitor Center

Saturday, August 12, 2017 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

When Brigadier General Henri Paixhans introduced his concepts of ship-mounted shell guns, he virtually ended the rule of the sea by wooden ships of the line. Paixhans and others like John A.B. Dahlgren, developed guns that could fire explosive shells which tore rugged holes in vessels, send shrapnel and sparks across the decks, causing a wooden warship to burn. The introduction of shellguns and rifled guns to naval warfare prompted the development of ironclads which changed naval warfare forevermore. Technology now rules the waves.



The Many Faces of Preservation: Where does Conservation End and Restoration Begin?

Presented by Lesley Haines, Assistant Conservator, USS Monitor Project

Saturday, September 9, 2017 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Preservation is the act of caring for objects to prolong their lives; however, there is no one absolute way to go about this. Conservation stabilizes objects in their current state, whereas restoration replaces or adds parts to return objects to their former glory. Sometimes a combination of these methods is useful. Picking an appropriate process depends on many factors: what is the object made of, how it was used, and where will it be displayed. We’ll delve into the theory of preservation using examples from the Museum’s collection, including the conservation of USS Monitor artifacts and the restoration of the Cape Charles Lighthouse lens.


16 SEP

USS Mississippi: Ship of the Manifest Destiny

Presented by John V. Quarstein, Director Emeritus, USS Monitor Center

Saturday, September 16, 2017 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

The first ocean-going paddler, this U.S. Navy steamer launched May 5, 1841, and served under the command of Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry during the siege of Veracruz during the Mexican-American War. Perry took the Mississippi to Japan to ‘open’ the country to American trade. The ship also served in the East India Squadron during the second Opium War. Assigned to the Gulf Coast Blockading Squadron, the Mississippi captured Key West, Florida, and then served during Admiral D. G. Farragut’s capture of New Orleans. The Mississippi is credited with being the first wooden warship to sink an ironclad, but she was lost when she ran aground on March 14, 1863, at Port Hudson, Louisiana.


14 OCT

Silk and Rifles: The Southern Belle and the Union Naval Blockade

Presented by Guest Lecturer Emily Schwalbe, Archaeologist, Clemson University-Warren Lasch Conservation Center

Saturday, October 14, 2017 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

When Abraham Lincoln instituted a naval blockade against southern ports in 1862, the purpose was to deprive the Confederacy of military supplies. It had the unintended effect, however, of preventing upper class women from purchasing imported goods that solidified their status in Confederate society. Faced with the decision of importing silk or rifles through the blockade, blockade runners often chose to transport luxury items for wealthy families rather than necessities for the military. While this decision was criticized as unpatriotic by many, it reflects the hierarchical ideology that defined the antebellum and Civil War south.


28 OCT

Torpedoes: Infernal Machines

Presented by John V. Quarstein, Director Emeritus, USS Monitor Center

Saturday, October 28, 2017 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Without a navy when the Civil War erupted, the Confederacy sought new technologies to defend their ports and rivers. Consequently, they developed a system of torpedoes, which aided their defense, sinking several Union ironclads, gunboats, and transports.

RSVP tickets coming soon!


It’s Science!

Presented by Elsa Sangouard and Kate Sullivan, Conservators, USS Monitor Project

Saturday, November 4, 2017 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Are you familiar with the acronyms XRF, FTIR or SEM? Would you like to know why conservators rely on science to guide their treatment choices? During this lecture you’ll learn about the many ways conservators use analytical tools and scientific methods to answer specific questions about artifacts, ultimately enabling their preservation for future generations.


18 NOV

CSS Manassas

Presented by John V. Quarstein, Director Emeritus, USS Monitor Center

Saturday, November 18, 2017 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Built on the hull of the tug boat Enoch Train, the Manassas was designed as a one-gun ironclad ram. While conceived to serve as a privateer, she was commandeered by the Confederate Navy. The Manassas attacked the Union blockade at Head of the Passes on October 12, 1861, but she fought the USS Mississippi and was sunk on October 24, 1862, near Fort Jackson, Louisiana.

RSVP tickets coming soon!


CSS Nashville

Presented by John V. Quarstein, Director Emeritus, USS Monitor Center

Saturday, December 9, 2017 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

The Confederate Navy introduced commerce to the Civil War when the CSS Nashville sank the merchant marine Harvey Birch. Commerce raiders decimated the American merchant marine and whaling ships; however, the Nashville might have been the first; yet, not the most successful. It was trapped near Savannah, Georgia, and was destroyed by the monitor USS Montauck, captained by Commander John. L. Worden.