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.


Become a Mariners’ Member – attend lectures for FREE!
To learn more about Member benefits like free admission to our lecture series, 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.


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

The Grey Goose Cafe at The Mariners' Museum

The Grey Goose Cafe will now be open for dinner before Thursday evening lectures. Come early and enjoy a delicious meal before the program begins.


2015 Lecture Dates & Titles


24 SEP

Voices from the Bottom of the South China Sea

Speaker: Robert Wells

Thursday, September 24 • 7:00 PM

Robert Wells: Voices from the Bottom of the South China Sea

In 1874 off the southern coast of China, the American ship SS Japan, carrying hundreds of Chinese emigrants, burst into flames and sank when a coal fire swept across its deck. In his book, Robert Wells recounts the Chinese passengers’ working lives in California, and tells the story of America’s complicated relationships with Asia in the 19th century. It’s a story of a shipwreck, piracy and lost treasure, but also of the shared dreams of the Chinese and Americans who sought their fortunes in the American West.

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Robert Wells


15 OCT

Food at Sea from Ancient to Modern Times

Speaker: Simon Spalding

Thursday, October 15 • 7:00 PM

Simon Spalding: Food at Sea from Ancient to Modern Times

In his book, Food at Sea: Shipboard Cuisine from Ancient to Modern Times, Simon Spalding offers tantalizing stories of maritime culinary history, from the ingredients and practices of ancient Argonauts and Vikings to Renaissance explorers, sailing navies, cruise ships, submarines and more. Like his book, this lecture will be illustrated with excerpts from poems and songs spanning centuries of human history as Spalding accompanies himself on fiddle, banjo and Chinese erhu.

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Simon Spalding



The Navigators Film Screening

Speaker: Sam Low

Thursday, November 5 • 7:00 PM

Sam Low: The Navigators Film Screening

Join us for a film screening of Sam Low’s The Navigators: Pathfinders of the Pacific (1983), with a Q&A to follow. More than 1,000 years ago, the scattered islands of Polynesia were settled by an ancient seafaring people. Where did they come from and how did they navigate the vast Pacific Ocean? The Navigators follows archaeologists across the Pacific as they prove that ancient Polynesians voyaged east from islands in Southeast Asia aboard large seaworthy canoes. Low’s film also tells the modern story of Mau Piailug, a traditional navigator from Micronesia, as he sails the canoe Hokule’a from Hawaii to Tahiti by following a world of natural signs—just as the ancient Polynesians once did.

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Sam Low

Watch a preview of Sam Low’s The Navigators: Pathfinders of the Pacific below:


10 DEC

The Lost Submarines of Pearl Harbor

Speaker: James Delgado

Thursday, December 10 • 7:00 PM

James Delgado: The Lost Submarines of Pearl Harbor

Join Dr. James Delgado in an illustrated tour of some of Japan’s top-secret World War II submarines that now lie wrecked in deep water off the entrance to Pearl Harbor. The wrecks, discovered by the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory and NOAA, include multiple submarines used in the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, as well as the recently discovered I-400, first of the large Sentoku submarines built to carry three aircraft and capable of circumnavigating the globe. Delgado’s talk will also include details on a rare treasure of The Mariners’ Museum collection—the prototype craft for the Japanese midget submarine program—which has been in the Museum collection since the end of WWII.

Buy tickets >>

Jim Delgado

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

Hunnicutt Lecture Fund
WHRO Public Media logo
Ferguson Cares logo

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 p.m. They are free with Museum admission.


July 18 @ 2:30 PM Presented by: John V. Quarstein, Chief Development Officer of the USS Monitor Foundation

“Where Two Opposing Forces Meet: Franklin Buchanan and David Farragut at Mobile Bay”

Besides the epic battle of Hampton Roads, the Battle of Mobile Bay is one of the most iconic engagements of the Civil War at sea. This encounter pitted the Civil War’s only two full admirals, David Glasgow Farragut and Franklin Buchanan, in a classic confrontation for the control of the blockade runners’ haven Mobile Bay.

Farragut’s clarion call to action, “Damn the Torpedoes…Full Speed Ahead,” as his fleet stalled in front of Fort Morgan when the USS Tecumseh had been sunk by a torpedo, is one of naval history’s greatest statements.

Both admirals provided inspirational leadership during this battle on August 5, 1864, which witnessed a major Union victory.


August 22, 2015 @ 11:00 AM Presented by: Historian Carson Hudson

“The President is Dead! A photographic study of the Lincoln assassination.”

Photography had emerged as a new way to record historic people and events during the Civil War. With the tragedy of Pres. Lincoln’s assassination in April of 1865, it was used to identify not only the crime scene and the suspects, but to document their incarceration and subsequent executions. Join historian Carson Hudson as he tells the story of the assassination through the examination and analysis of period photographs. Please note, some of the images may be disturbing to some visitors. 


September 12, 2015 @ 2:30 PM Presented by: Senior Conservator Will Hoffman

“Why Is It Going to Take So Long to Get the Turret on Display?”

USS Monitor conservation staff are often asked, “why is going to take so long to get the gun turret and other artifacts on display?” This lecture will provide an overview of the treatment processes for some of the signature objects within the Monitor collection.

Explanation will be given as to why conservation will take so long. The presentation will focus on the challenges associated with the preservation of the largest marine archaeological metals project in the world, and give the audience a front seat view into the decision-making process for artifact treatment.


October 17, 2015 @ 2:30 PM Presented by: Director, USS Monitor Center & Foundation, John V. Quarstein

“Life and Times of John Lorimer Worden”

Join noted historian John V. Quarstein as he tells the thrilling tales of Lieutenant John Worden who became the toast of the nation when he commanded the USS Monitor during the Battle of Hampton Roads.


November 14, 2015 @ 2:30 PM Presented by: USS Monitor Conservation staff

“Conserving USS Monitor’s Dahlgren Guns and Gun Carriages”

USS Monitor’s Dahlgren guns and gun carriages were recovered inside the revolving gun turret in 2002 and have been undergoing documentation, conservation and study ever since. This lecture will provide incredible details about the history of these artifacts, ongoing conservation challenges and plans for displaying and interpreting them.


December 5, 2015 @ 2:30 PM Presented by: USS Monitor Conservation staff

“History in Your Hands”

Join conservation staff from the USS Monitor Project for a unique, hands-on examination of certain items recovered from the wreck of USS Monitor. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to handle ironclad history!


December 12, 2015 @ 2:30 PM Presented by: Director, USS Monitor Center & Foundation, John V. Quarstein

“The Last Days of the Monitor

The last week of the USS Monitor’s career ranged from a hearty Christmas celebration to an encounter with a fierce winter gale off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Learn about the Christmas dinner and the desperate attempt to save the Monitor.


For questions about the lectures please contact:

Adult Education
(757) 591-7749

For questions regarding book sales please contact:

The Museum Shop
(757) 591-7792

Members, to reserve seats to the lectures please contact:

(757) 591-7715