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 Spring 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.

Sold Out!

Joe Hoyt, NOAA Maritime Archaeologist, on a diveJoe Hoyt, NOAA Maritime Archaeologist, on a dive (Credit: NOAA)

Members, you’re also invited to meet the speakers at a Members-only Reception preceding the lecture program.

5:30 PM · Concourse

RSVP for the Members-only Reception here…

NOAA Speakers

David Alberg, Sanctuary SuperintendentDavid Alberg, Sanctuary Superintendent (Credit: NOAA)

David Alberg, Sanctuary Superintendent, provides daily oversight for the Sanctuary and oversees the long-term preservation of the wreck site and the artifacts that have been recovered from the USS Montior. He is also heavily involved in policy development, education and public outreach to heighten public awareness and protect our submerged cultural legacy.

Tane Casserley, Research CoordinatorTane Casserley, Research Coordinator (Credit: NOAA)

Tane Casserley, Research Coordinator, specializes in 19th-century warships and deep-water archaeology. He has led multiple NOAA archaeological expeditions using technical diving, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), and manned submersibles.

Joseph Hoyt, Maritime ArchaeologistJoseph Hoyt, Maritime Archaeologist (Credit: NOAA)

Joseph Hoyt, Maritime Archaeologist, specializes in archaeological recording of deep water shipwrecks. He has worked on projects in the Great Lakes, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and several inland rivers. Most recently, Hoyt has been the Chief Scientist on a multifaceted wide area investigation of WWII era shipwrecks lost off the coast of North Carolina.



Nathaniel Bowditch and the Power of Numbers

Presented by Tamara Thornton

Thursday, 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.

Buy Tickets Here


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.

Buy Tickets Here

“The Mathews Men” book cover

William Geroux, author of "The Mathews Men"William Geroux (Credit: Kema Geroux)

William Geroux wrote for the Richmond Times-Dispatch for twenty-five years. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Associated Press, and various regional magazines. He also has worked for Maersk, the largest container-shipping company in the world.



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.

Buy Tickets Here

Michael Tougias - "So Close to Home" book cover“So Close To Home” book cover

Michael Tougias, author of "So Close To Home"Michael Tougias (Credit: Michael Tougias)

Michael J. Tougias is a New York Times bestselling author and co-author of 24 books.

Among his bestsellers are The Finest Hours (Disney Motion Pictures’ version opened in 45 countries in January 2016), Fatal Forecast, Overboard, King Philip’s War, and There’s A Porcupine In My Outhouse: The Vermont Misadventures of a Mountain Man Wannabe.


29 APR

The Sailor’s Homer

Presented by Dennis L. Noble

Saturday, April 29, 2017 • 2:00 PM

Dennis L. Noble: The Sailor’s Homer

While there are virtually no biographies of naval enlisted personnel, The Sailor’s Homer illustrates the life of writer Richard McKenna, who was a sailor from the late 1930s to the end of the Korean War. This biography provides a fuller perspective on the life of the many “faceless” enlisted sailors of McKenna’s era. During this lecture, author Dennis Noble will expand on his biography and explore McKenna’s literary works. After Noble retired from the U.S. Navy in 1978, he attended Purdue University, receiving a Ph.D. in history. Noble is the author of 15 books and has received numerous awards.

This lecture is free with Museum admission, but reserving a seat is suggested as seating is limited.

Reserve Tickets Here

"The Sailor's Homer" by Dennis L. Noble book cover“The Sailor’s Homer” book cover



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, Speed and Innovation in the America’s Cup.

Buy Tickets Here

America's Cup racing photoAmerica’s Cup racing photo


22 JUN

Technological Innovations in Sailing

Presented by Britton Ward

Thursday, June 22, 2017 • 7:00 PM

Britton Ward: Technological Innovations in Sailing

Britton Ward has designed different hulls for international sailing competitions like the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race. In this lecture, Ward will discuss how technological innovations have made boats remarkably faster each year.

Buy Tickets Here

America's Cup racing photoAmerica’s Cup racing photo

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.

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 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) 952-0466 or email jmurphy@MarinersMuseum.org.

14 JAN

Advancements in Maritime Technology in the 1800s

Presented by Lesley Haines, Assistant Conservator, USS Monitor Center

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

The decades surrounding the American Civil War saw great advancement in naval technology. New military hull designs merged with civilian inventions from the Industrial Revolution to modernize the navies of the world. Join Lesley Haines as she discusses innovations of the time including those on the USS Monitor, the HMS Warrior, and the FS La Glorie.


11 FEB

So How Much of the USS Monitor Do You Actually Have?

Presented by Will Hoffman, Senior Conservator and Conservation Project Manager, USS Monitor Center

Saturday, February 11, 2017 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

We often get asked, “How much of the USS Monitor was recovered, and what is still left on the seafloor?” To answer these questions, this presentation will provide an overview of the major artifacts recovered from the wreck site and their orientation within the vessel. An overview of the remains still on the seafloor will be discussed, as well as some proposed ideas for final artifact display after conservation is completed at The Mariners’ Museum and Park.


18 MAR

Photo-modeling USS Monitor Artifacts

Presented by Hannah Fleming, Coordinator, USS Monitor Center

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

Ever wonder what the turret looks like in 3D? Want to see details of buttons, bottles, and silverware without a magnifying glass? Photo-modeling can help answer important questions while offering researchers and guests a new way to experience artifacts that would not be on display otherwise — because the artifact is undergoing conservation or because it is too fragile. Learn what data can be gathered and how Monitor artifacts can be shared digitally all over the world.



Conserving Civil War Shipwrecks: Research and Innovations

Presented by Elsa Sangouard, Senior Conservator, USS Monitor Project

Saturday, April 8, 2017 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

There is no written recipe to conserving a Civil War shipwreck. One of a conservator’s major assignments is to research the most appropriate methods to stabilize artifacts and, consequently, preserve them. This pre-treatment phase is fundamental as every single object presents its own set of challenges and such research must be conducted within the framework of a conservation code of ethics, much like working in the medical field. After introducing the code, Elsa Sangouard will discuss recent research examples from Texas to Virginia, illustrating the nation’s efforts to preserve American Civil war icons.


13 MAY

Last Days of the CSS Virginia

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

Saturday, May 13, 2017 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

When President Abraham Lincoln orchestrated the capture of Norfolk and Portsmouth on 11 May 1862, the CSS Virginia had few options. Too unseaworthy to steam to another port with its poor engines; the Virginia’s draft of 22 feet also precluded towing the ironclad up the James River to Richmond. Sadly, the warship was run aground during the early morning of 11 May 1862, and was scuttled. Flag Officer Josiah Tattnall, the Virginia’s last commander, reported, “Thus perished the Virginia and with her, many high flown hopes of naval supremacy and success.”


10 JUN

Canada during the Civil War

Presented by Kate Sullivan, Conservator, USS Monitor Project

Saturday, June 10, 2017 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

The Civil War forever changed the United States, but its effects were not confined to its states’ borders. Although Canada had not yet become a country, British North America, as it was then known, was deeply affected by the conflict to the south. Canadian-born, USS Monitor Center Conservator Kate Sullivan will discuss the impact of the American Civil War on the country that would become Canada.



Harriet Tubman: Conductor, Spy, ‘General’

Presented by Laurie King, Assistant Conservator, USS Monitor Project

Saturday, July 8, 2017 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Harriet Tubman is most commonly known for her actions as a conductor in the Underground Railroad, repeatedly crossing into slave territory to lead enslaved friends and families to freedom. However, this is only one part of Tubman’s life. Between her work as an abolitionist and humanitarian, and serving as a nurse, scout and spy for the Union Army, Tubman spent her life fighting for freedom and justice. Join Laurie King as she delves into the life of Harriet Tubman and explores the endeavors of this American heroine.


12 AUG

19th Century Naval Ordnance

Presented by John V. Quarstein, Director, 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.


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.



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.



CSS Nashville

Presented by John V. Quarstein, Director, 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.