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.


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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


22 JAN

Fakes, Forgeries and the Art of Deception

Speaker: Colette Loll

Thursday, January 22 • 7:00 PM

Fakes, Forgeries and the Art of Deception

Fakes and forgeries were once the dirty little secret of the art world, and no gallery, museum or auction house has ever been entirely free from the embarrassment of a costly error of misattribution or faulty provenance. Today, forgery scandals and the bungling of authentication are making big news, spurring a growing public interest in deciphering these costly mistakes. A recent flurry of books, conferences and exhibitions dedicated to fakes, forgeries, mistakes, and misattributions is evidence that the age-old art of forgery has never intrigued the public more than it does today.

Join curator Colette Loll as she discusses prolific forgers from the 20th century to the present day, and describes how their infamous legacies beguiled the art world. Loll illuminates how each forger, driven by frustrated artistic ambitions, chaotic personal lives and contempt for the art world, manages to fool the experts, and how advances in technology aid in ascertaining authenticity.

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About the Speaker

Photo of Colette Loll

Colette Loll

Colette Loll is the founder of Art Fraud Insights, a consultancy specializing in art fraud related lectures, training and customized investigation of artworks. She previously served as director of Public and Institutional Relations for the Association for Research into Crimes against Art, and has presented for both Interpol and the Department of Homeland Security. Colette Loll is the founder and director of Art Fraud Insights, a consultancy dedicated to art fraud-related lectures, training, and specialized investigation of artworks. Ms. Loll was the CEO of a marketing and software company for 15 years before leaving the business world to earn a Master of Arts degree in the History of Decorative Arts from the Smithsonian/Corcoran College of Art+Design.

Her interest in issues related to authenticity propelled her to Italy for post graduate studies in International Art Crime through a program sponsored by the Association for Research into Crimes against Art (ARCA), an international non-profit and interdisciplinary research group dedicated to contemporary issues in art crime and cultural property protection. After her studies, and while living in Europe, Ms. Loll served as director of Public and Institutional Relations for ARCA while conducting her own research into the lives and careers of prolific art forgers of the 20th and 21st century.

Her current exhibit, Intent to Deceive: Fakes and Forgeries in the Art World, is on a national museum tour. She is also a contributor to B is for Buttersworth, F is for Forgery.



“The Rescue of the Bounty

Speaker: Michael Tougias

Thursday, February 5 • 7:00 PM

“The Rescue of the Bounty

Photo of "Rescue of the Bounty" book cover

“Rescue of the Bounty” book cover

On October 25, 2012, Captain Robin Walbridge made the fateful decision to sail the HMS Bounty from New London, Connecticut to St. Petersburg, Florida. Walbridge was well aware that a hurricane called Sandy was forecast to come up the Eastern seaboard. He explained to his crew of 15 that the ship would fare better at sea than at port, and that he thought he could sail “around the hurricane.” He told the crew that anyone who did not want to come on the voyage could leave the ship and there would be no hard feelings. No one took the captain up on his offer.

Four days into the voyage Superstorm Sandy made an almost direct hit on the Bounty, and the ship was lost. Captain Walbridge and one other crewmember lost their lives in the accident, but Coast Guard sailors, pilots, and swimmers saved the rest of the Bounty’s crew.

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About the Speaker

Photo of Michael Tougias

Michael Tougias

Michael Tougias is one of America’s foremost chroniclers of true survival stories. Along with “Rescue of the Bounty“, which he co-authored with Douglas Campbell, Tougias’ works include “A Storm Too Soon”, “Ten Hours Until Dawn”, and “The Finest Hours”, which will be released as a major motion picture in 2016. Here at The Mariners’ Museum, Tougias will provide an “edge-of-your-seat” visual program, telling the story of the Bounty using images of the storm, the survivors, and the harrowing rescue operation. A book signing will follow the program.


28 FEB

“Unlikely Warrior”

Speaker: Lee Mandel

Saturday, February 28 • 4:30 PM

Unlikely Warrior

"Unlikely Warrior" book cover

“Unlikely Warrior” book cover

Through the 1930s, Rabbi Roland Gittelsohn was an outspoken pacifist and political activist. But when World War II broke out, he voluntarily enlisted with the United States Navy. Gittelsohn became the first Jewish chaplain to serve in the United States Marine Corps, and provided vital support and guidance to Marines of all faiths at the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Join author Lee Mandel as he explores the life of unlikely warrior Rabbi Gittelsohn, his decision to join the armed services, and the development of the Navy’s chaplains into a vital support for America’s fighting forces. A signing of Mandel’s new biography of Gittelsohn, Unlikely Warrior, will follow.

This lecture is free with admission to the Museum.

About the Speaker

Lee Mandel photo

Lee Mandel

After serving as a physician in the United States Navy for more than twenty years, Captain Lee Mandel retired to pursue his passion: military history. His first novel, Moryak: A Novel of the Russian Revolution, won the Santa Fe Creative Arts Council Grand Prize for Fiction in 2010. Throughout his distinguished career, he has served as the official historian and lecturer on three military ships and has published dozens of articles in medical journals. Beginning as a staff internist and working his way up to the position of command flight surgeon, Mandel was consistently recognized for his superior medical skills. Many of his posts included a significant teaching component, where he instructed students on the difficulties of caring for soldiers overseas. When he is not writing or researching, he works part time as a medical examiner for the Commonwealth of Virginia and as a staff physician at Newport News Shipyard Clinic. He lives with his wife in Chesapeake, Virginia.


26 MAR

Art Crime: Pursuing the Priceless

Speaker: Robert Wittman

Thursday, March 26 • 7:00 PM

Art Crime: Pursuing the Priceless

Photo of Robert Wittman

Robert Wittman

The Wall Street Journal called him “a living legend.” The Times of London dubbed him “The most famous art detective in the world.”

Rising from humble roots as the son of an antiques dealer, Wittman built a twenty-year law-enforcement career that was nothing short of extraordinary. He founded the FBI’s National Art Crime Team and served for 20 years as the FBI’s investigative expert in this field. Armed with a scholar’s passion, a con man’s smile, and a daredevil’s nerves, he worked undercover to catch art thieves, scammers, and black market traders in Paris and Philadelphia, Rio and Santa Fe, Miami and Madrid. By the FBI’s accounting, Wittman saved hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of art and antiquities. He says the statistic isn’t important. After all, who’s to say what is worth more—a Rembrandt self-portrait or an American flag carried into battle? They’re both priceless.

After retiring from the FBI in 2008, he wrote the New York Times Best Seller Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures with John Shiffman. Today, Robert Wittman is president of Robert Wittman Incorporated, the international art recovery, protection, and security firm. Mr. Wittman will speak about his FBI career leading audiences through notorious art heists and incredibly daring undercover recoveries. Audiences will hear the true stories behind the headlines of the FBI’s “real Indiana Jones.”




The Sinking of the USS Thresher

Speaker: Joe Yurso

Saturday, April 4 • 4:30 PM

The Sinking of the USS Thresher

Joe Yurso photo

Joe Yurso

When it was built, USS Thresher was the most advanced submarine in the world. It was faster, quieter and dove deeper than any other. But on April 10, 1963, Thresher sank during dive trials off the New England coast. In the worst submarine disaster in history, 129 submariners and shipyard personnel lost their lives.

Joe Yurso was the watch officer at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in New Hampshire on that fateful day. As such, he was a first-hand witness to one of the Navy’s great tragedies. For over 50 years, he has devoted his life to making the US Navy and its ships safer for the men and women who serve.

At this special lecture, Mr. Yurso will speak about his experience with the Thresher and those men who gave their lives in service.

This lecture is free with admission to the Museum.


23 APR

“The Ship that Held Up Wall Street”

Speaker: Warren Riess

Thursday, April 23 • 7:00 PM

“The Ship that Held Up Wall Street”

Photo of "The Ship that Held Up Wall Street" book cover

“The Ship that Held Up Wall Street” book cover

In January 1982, the remains of an eighteenth-century ship were found in Lower Manhattan during a pre-construction excavation. Nautical archaeologists Warren Reiss and Sheli Smith were brought in to direct the excavation and analysis of the ship’s remains. As it turns outs, the mystery ship’s age and type meant that its careful study would help answer some important questions about the commerce and transportation of an earlier era of American history.

Entombed for more than 200 years, the Princess Carolina proved to be the first major discovery of a colonial merchant ship. Years of arduous analytical work have led to critical breakthroughs revealing how the ship was designed and constructed, its probable identity as a vessel built in Charleston, South Carolina, its history as a merchant ship, and why and how it came to be buried in Manhattan. The Ronson ship has provided important information about the British Empire eighteenth-century growth, colonial America’s industry and economy, and Manhattan’s development. The ship’s bow timbers and artifacts are now housed here at the Mariners’ Museum.

Riess’s book, The Ship that Held Up Wall Street, tells the whole story of the discovery, excavation and study of what came to be called the Ronson ship site, named for the site’s developer, Howard Ronson. The book also gives the reader a better sense of what a nautical archaeologist’s job entails.

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About the Speaker

Photo of Warren Riess

Warren Riess

Warren Riess, a research associate professor in the departments of history, anthropology, and marine sciences and the University of Maine, was principal investigator of the Ronson ship site. He is the author of Angel Gabriel: the Elusive English Galleon.


14 MAY

The Real McCoy

Speaker: Bailey Pryor

Thursday, May 14 • 7:00 PM

The Real McCoy

"The Real McCoy"

“The Real McCoy”, presented by Connecticut Public Television

It was an era unlike any other in American history. The nineteen twenties was an iconic age of political intolerance and emerging social freedoms. It was the age of Prohibition that gave birth to such iconic characters as The Flapper, The Private Eye and Organized Crime. For many people, it was an age of opportunity. Bill McCoy was one such character. A new generation bootlegger who earned the name “The Real McCoy” because he always delivered undiluted alcohol. His whiskey, gin and rum were always uncut and his patrons loved him for it.

This gentleman crook was the pioneer Rum Runner of the prohibition era. A man of innovation and maritime tradition, who fueled the Roaring Twenties by side stepping ill-conceived maritime law and importing alcohol legally. Throughout his exploits, McCoy never actually broke the law, but he confounded authorities by beating them at their own game and challenging the US Government to a War on Rum.

The King of Rum Row never drank alcohol himself but he transported over 2 million bottles from the Caribbean to New York, just to slake America’s thirst.

McCoy’s transformation from modest boat builder to Public Enemy is a legendary tale about a man who personified the tumultuous years of Prohibition in America.

Bill McCoy led an extraordinary life that would make him a household name, and forever entwine his exploits as “The Real McCoy” into the fabric of American folklore.

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About the Speaker

Photo of Bailey Pryor with his 5 Emmy® Awards

Bailey Pryor with his 5 Emmy® Awards

Bailey has worked in the film and television industry for over 25 years. He has won six Emmy Awards and has produced seven feature films and over 150 television programs for ABC, PBS, Outdoor Life Network, Versus, Fox Sports Net, ESPN, Discovery Channel, Spike TV, Animal Planet, Tennis Channel and Travel Channel.

Bailey is currently the President & CEO of Telemark Films. He has previously held the position of President & CEO of Warren Miller Entertainment in Boulder, Colorado. Bailey is also the Founder and CEO of The Real McCoy Rum, which is based on a film he produced for PBS of the same name.


18 MAY

Merchant Marine Survivors of World War II

Speaker: Michael Gillen

Monday, May 18 • 4:30 PM • Explorers’ Theater

Merchant Marine Survivors of World War II

"Merchant Marine Survivors of World War II" book cover

“Merchant Marine Survivors of World War II” book cover

During World War II, the Merchant Marine played a vital role in supporting American forces across the globe. Truly, the war could not have been won without the efforts of our merchant seamen. Michael Gillen gives voice to 20 Merchant Marine veterans who tell their stories in his book, Merchant Marine Survivors of World War II.

About the Speaker

Author Michael Gillen

Michael Gillen

Author Michael Gillen.

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

Hunnicutt Lecture Fund
Newport News Arts Commission

Special Thanks to our Community Partners:

WHRO Public Media 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.


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.


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. 


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!


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