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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.



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.


13 JAN

Confederate Pirates: The Capture of the St. Nicholas

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

Saturday, January 13, 2018 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

The daring capture of the steamer St. Nicholas on June 2, 1861, in the Potomac River was the Union’s first charge of Confederate piracy during the Civil War. Captain George Hollins, CSN, and adventurer Lieutenant Colonel Richard Thomas Zarona captured the ship using an elaborate ruse. Their plot focused around a flirtatious French “lady” known as Madame La Force. She had brought three heavy trunks on board and was traveling from Baltimore to Washington, D.C., to begin a business there. At the appointed hour, the trunks were emptied of their contents (pistols and cutlasses) by Col. Zarona’s followers. Madame La Force disrobed, revealing none other than the colonel himself, in full Zouave uniform. Zarona and Hollins took over the steamer, later capturing three Northern merchantmen. The pair was proclaimed vicious pirates in the North and treated like heroes throughout the South.

Tickets Coming Soon!

10 FEB

Passaic-class Monitors

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

Saturday, February 10, 2018 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Even though the USS Monitor was proclaimed the “little ship that saved the Union,” this experimental ironclad had numerous design flaws. The Monitor’s inventor, John Ericsson, set about to improve the design which resulted in the Passaic-class of monitor ships. Ericsson added XV-inch Dahlgren guns to compliment the XI-inch shell guns in each turret, improved the protecting armor, and enhanced the hull design, making this class of monitors more seaworthy. In all, 10 were constructed, and they all served well during the war. Two were sunk off Charleston, South Carolina: the USS Weehawken, overtaken by a swell that flooded its hatches, and the USS Patapsco, hit by a torpedo. The Passaic-class proved to be the ironclad backbone of the Union’s blockading squadrons during 1863.

Tickets Coming Soon!

10 MAR

Civil War Naval Ordnance

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

Saturday, March 10, 2018 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

During the three decades prior to the Civil War, major changes occurred in ordnance development. These improvements prompted wide-scale modifications to ship design, propulsion, and tactics. Shell guns, like the Dahlgren, prompted the creation of ironclads to protect against the deadly explosive shells fired by these weapons. Further ordnance improvements enabled guns to be rifled, such as the 6.4-inch and 7-inch Brooke guns. These were safe to fire due to double and triple banding. Brooke guns provided greater range, velocity, and accuracy and were used on virtually every Confederate ironclad. Union Parrott rifles had the same attributes and were widely produced in 100-pounder and 150-pounder versions. Unfortunately, because of their single bands, they were prone to bursting. These heavy rifled guns would influence naval armament for the next century.

Tickets Coming Soon!

14 APR

DuPont’s Ironclad Attack on Charleston

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

Saturday, April 14, 2018 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

On April 7, 1863, Rear Admiral Samuel Francis DuPont sent a squadron of nine ironclads to destroy Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie at the entrance to the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. This enabled his command to reach the inner harbor. The strike force included the casemated ironclad New Ironsides, the experimental tower ironclad Keokuk, and seven Passaic-class monitors. Defending Charleston were numerous forts, obstructions, torpedoes, and two ironclads: CSS Chicora and CSS Palmetto State, all under the command of General P. G. T. Beauregard. The Union hoped for a grand victory, but it was not to be. Their ironclads were pounded by Confederate forts. All seven Passaic-class monitors were heavily damaged, and the Keokuk was sunk. The defeat was so resounding that DuPont would be relieved of his command in the aftermath of this battle.

Tickets Coming Soon!

12 MAY

Confederate Piracy on the High Seas: The Clarence/Tacony/Archer Affair

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

Saturday, May 12, 2018 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

When the CSS Florida, commanded by Lieutenant John Newland Maffitt, captured the Baltimore brig Clarence, Lieutenant Charles W. ‘Savez’ Read took command of the brig to operate separately from the Florida as a commerce raider. Read then seized several merchant ships including the bark Tacony. The Clarence was burned as Read transferred his flag to the Tacony, taking 15 ships, the last being the fishing schooner Archer, off the coast of Maine. Read took command of the Archer, burning the Tacony. He then conceived a plan to capture the revenue cutter Caleb Cushing. The Archer sailed into Portland, Maine’s harbor and docked. On June 27, 1863, Read and his men captured the cutter. At dawn, they sailed out of Portland. Unfortunately for the Confederates, a falling wind enabled the Federals to capture the two ships, but not until Read set them afire. Read’s daring leadership made him the scourge of Northern shipping.

Tickets Coming Soon!