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.

Charlotte’s Cafe will remain open for dinner before the lectures.

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

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.


2016 Lecture Dates & Titles



The Underwater Photography of Liquid Light

Presented by Jeanne Adams

Thursday, January 7, 2016 • 7:00 PM

Jeanne Adams: The Underwater Photography of Liquid Light

The Mariners’ Museum’s Liquid Light exhibition is a pioneering look at the world beneath the ocean. It would not have been possible without the efforts of world-renowned photography expert Jeanne Adams. Adams, the daughter-in-law of noted photographer Ansel Adams, is a strong advocate for the power of the photograph in telling nature’s stories. Her relationships with underwater photographers are helping to bring this beautiful, emerging art form into the global spotlight. Get an insider’s perspective of the making of Liquid Light from Adams in this presentation.

Buy Tickets Here

Jeanne Adams photo

Jeanne Adams



The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel

Presented by John Warren & Jeffrey Holland

Thursday, February 4, 2016 • 7:00 PM

John Warren: The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
John Warren is the author of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel volume in the popular Images of America series. His research on the Bridge-Tunnel—an icon of the Hampton Roads landscape—has led him to some unexpected places. Please join the Mariners’ for an enlightening discussion on the history of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, a deeper look into its construction and the research that went into his book.

At its opening in 1964, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel was named one of the “Five Wonders of the Modern World” by Reader’s Digest magazine. It was the culmination of a concerted, decade-long push by a group of men, led by Lucius J. Kellam Jr., an Eastern Shore native and businessman who dreamed of opening up the remote Eastern Shore to present-day Virginia Beach. This $200-million, 17.6-mile-long series of bridges, tunnels, islands, and trestle in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay won the attention of the world at its opening. It is the subject of a 128-page book recently published by Arcadia Publishing.

Jeffrey Holland will be joining John Warren for this lecture.

Buy Tickets Here

"Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel" by John Warren, book cover

“Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel” by John Warren, book cover

John Warren photo

John Warren

John Warren wrote the “Road Warrior” column for The Virginian-Pilot newspaper in Norfolk, Virginia, from 1999 to 2009. His reporting included transportation and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. He has also worked at the Mariners’ Museum and Jefferson Lab.


Jeffrey B. Holland has been Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel District since June 2005. Jeff is responsible for the general management and oversight of the day-to-day operations of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. In this capacity, he enjoys the opportunity to work with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel Commission and the District’s employees to be the best fiduciaries possible in operating, maintaining, and preserving the largest bridge and tunnel in the world that is located in the most tumultuous marine environment for surface transportation in the world.


24 MAR

Slavery at Sea: Human Trafficking in the Seafood Industry

Presented by an Expert Panel

Thursday, March 24, 2016 • 7:00 PM

Slavery at Sea: Human Trafficking in the Seafood Industry

Every year, an untold number of workers in the fishing industry go missing or are forced into service on illegal fishing vessels. This human trafficking is a true humanitarian crisis, and one that affects the very food we eat. This special evening will feature experts from Greenpeace and Prevent Human Trafficking and will examine how we can find solutions to this critical human rights issue.

Buy Tickets Here

Human Trafficking lecture

Human Trafficking photo


28 APR

Traditional Polynesian Wayfinding

Presented by the Crew of Hōkūleʻa

Thursday, April 28, 2016 • 7:00 PM

The crew of Hōkūleʻa: Traditional Polynesian Wayfinding

Hōkūleʻa is a traditional double-hulled Polynesian voyaging canoe, currently making a voyage around the globe to spread its message of Malama Honua, or, “to care for the Earth.” This spring, Hōkūleʻa will be visiting Newport News as it sails up the coast of North America. Members of the canoe’s crew will share some of the traditional navigational techniques that Hōkūleʻa uses as it sails, without modern instruments, across all the world’s oceans.

Buy Tickets Here

Crew of the Hōkūleʻa

Crew of the Hōkūleʻa


23 MAY

Brilliant Beacons: A History of the American Lighthouse

Presented by Eric Jay Dolin

Monday, May 23, 2016 • 7:00 PM

Eric Jay Dolin photo

Eric Jay Dolin

Eric Jay Dolin: Brilliant Beacons: A History of the American Lighthouse

For 300 years, America’s lighthouses have kept countless ships from wrecking, saved untold lives and contributed mightily to the growth and prosperity of the nation. Brilliant Beacons tells the story of these beloved coastal sentinels, and the male and female keepers who faithfully kept the lights shining and the fog signals blaring.

Buy Tickets Here

Brilliant Beacons" by Eric Jay Dolin, book cover

Brilliant Beacons” by Eric Jay Dolin, book cover



The Once and Future Ocean

Presented by Peter Neill

Tuesday, June 7, 2016 • 7:00 PM

Peter Neill

Peter Neill

Peter Neill: The Once and Future Ocean

In celebration of World Oceans Day, The Mariners’ Museum is pleased to welcome Peter Neill for a special lecture presentation. 
The ocean holds the key to humanity’s survival. At a time when the world faces a multitude of potential calamities, from climate change to a struggling oil industry to rapid population growth, author and environmentalist Peter Neill, Director of the World Ocean Observatory, argues that the time is now to begin organizing our social, financial and political order around water in all its forms and functions. Neill’s new book, THE ONCE AND FUTURE OCEAN: Notes Toward a New Hydraulic Society, offers a bold vision for a practical and possible future, based on a revolutionary paradigm shift toward a “new hydraulic society” that can be implemented through the political will of individuals who understand the necessity for change, the logic of a new moral alternative, and the reality of the consequences if we fail to act in time.

Buy Tickets Here

The Once and Future Ocean by Peter Neill, book cover

“The Once and Future Ocean” by Peter Neill, book cover

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

Hunnicutt Lecture Fund
WHRO Public Media logo
Ferguson Cares 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 p.m.

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) 591-7726 or email


Saturday, February 13, 2016 @ 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Presented by: Will Hoffman, Conservation Project Manager and Senior Conservator

“View the Monitor Through Photos”

Although there aren’t any known photographs of the interior of USS Monitor showing spaces such as the officer’s quarters or engine room and its machinery; much of the interior of the ironclad can still be seen through other documentation of the period such as photographs of other ironclad, drawing, and engravings etc. Please join us on an hour long tour through the “Cheesebox-on-a-raft” and get an inside view of the ship! Learn why people lined up to see the inside of this revolutionary vessel!

Saturday, March 12, 2016 @ 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Presented by: Hannah Piner, Coordinator, USS Monitor Center & Foundation

“New Navy Monitors”

At the turn of the 20th century, the US Navy made 10 “New Navy” Monitors. The first five were rebuilt from parts of Civil War Monitors, but were completely redesigned. These ships were slightly more sea-worthy than their predecessors, but were already outdated by the time of their manufacture. This was due, in large part, to their completion timelines which sometimes took more than 20 years. However, the Navy continued to use these ships until 1937. The USS Monitor, CSS Virginia, and other ironclads made a lasting impression on the US Navy that continues even today.

Saturday April 9, 2016 @ 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Presented by: Chelsea Freeland, Maritime Archaeologist

“A Statistical Study of Modern Greece cargo: Blockade Running off Fort Fisher, NC”

On June 27, 1862, the blockade-runner Modern Greece ran aground off the coast of Wilmington, NC. Modern Greece was within reach of the guns of Fort Fisher, protecting the vessel from the Union blockaders attempting to ignite the ship and its goods. But, not all of the cargo was salvaged from the ship during the war. There are several hypotheses for why only some of the cargo was saved: from a surplus of supplies in Wilmington to an unknown force stopping the salvage attempts. Why were some materials saved, while others were left to the sea?

Saturday May 14, 2016 @ 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Presented by: John V. Quarstein, Director, USS Monitor Center & Foundation

“Ramming Speed – The Rise & Fall of the Ram as a Naval Weapon”

The advent of ship-mounted artillery, as proven during the 7 October, 1571 battle of Lepanto, proved the power of musket and cannon over ram and crossbow. It was Confederate Secretary of the Navy, Stephen Russell Mallory, who recognized that, if you built a shot-proof warship, it would be capable of ramming enemy ships without fear of destruction. Consequently, rams became a feature in every Confederate warship and influenced ship design until the introduction of the HMS Dreadnought in 1906, which featured long range heavy (10-inch) guns.

Saturday June 11, 2016 @ 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Presented by: Will Hoffman, Conservation Project Manager and Senior Conservator

“Where are we in the conservation of the Turret?”

Here at the Monitor Center we often get asked, “What’s happening with the treatment of the turret?” To hear the answer to that question, this presentation is for you! The lecture will discuss the treatment of the turret to date and describe the current and projected plans for the long-term preservation of the giant artifact.

Saturday July 9, 2016 @ 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Presented by: Elsa Sangouard, Conservator, USS Monitor Project

“Going Through the Batten Conservation Complex’s Lab Fridge”

In addition to the large number of metal artifacts in the USS Monitor collection, there are also about 700 organic-based objects. Ranging from common gaskets containing fabric to sophisticated garments and wooden gun tools, all of these artifacts spend some time in our walk-in refrigerator before being conserved; some of them are still there awaiting treatment. This presentation will provide an overview of the vast organic collection recovered from the Monitor’s wreck site and discuss how conservators within the Batten Conservation Complex at The Mariners’ Museum and Park are stabilizing these artifacts for future generations. The conservation treatment of a wool pea coat recovered from the turret in 2002 will be highlighted.

Saturday August 13, 2016 @ 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Presented by: Lesley Haines, Assistant Conservator, USS Monitor Project

“Fugitive Slaves and the Use of Steamships and Small Crafts to Escape in the 1850’s”

The Underground Railroad is a well-known topic within American society, but the maritime routes used by fugitive slaves to escape are often overlooked. By re-examining William Still’s The Underground Railroad Records (1872) and using relevant archival material relating to the port of Philadelphia, two main uses of waterways becomes apparent; the individual hiding on commercial passenger steamers and captains of small vessels bringing groups of slaves northward. This paper focuses on one steamer, the City of Richmond, as its career parallels the issue of the fugitive slave between the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861.

Saturday September 10, 2016 @ 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Presented by: Will Hoffman, Conservation Project Manager and Senior Conservator, & Laurie King, Assistant Conservator, USS Monitor Project

“Keeping It Cool – Using Dry-Ice Cleaning in the Conservation of the USS Monitor Artifacts”

The conservation of artifacts recovered from a marine environment can often be quite challenging; largely because of the unique seafloor burial conditions of the objects. Therefore, during the conservation process, new techniques and methods are developed to overcome difficult treatment challenges. This presentation will discuss the use of dry-ice cleaning to remove corrosion from archaeological metal artifacts from the USS Monitor. Hear about how conservators identified the technique was safe, for the artifacts and the conservators, as well as how it will accelerate the Monitor conservation project.

Saturday October 8, 2016 @ 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Presented by: Kate Sullivan, Conservator, USS Monitor Project

“Why Composite Artifacts are Tricky to Conserve”

Despite the USS Monitor being an iron ship, there was a large quantity of organic material recovered during excavations such as wood, rope, leather and rubber. Individually the treatment of these materials is reasonably straightforward. When an artifact is made up of multiple materials that cannot be separated, usually a combination of metals and organics, conservation treatment of these composite artifacts becomes more complicated. This presentation will discuss research being conducted in the USS Monitor Conservation laboratory on the treatment of composite artifacts.

Saturday November 12, 2016 @ 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Presented by: Joe Hoyt, NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary Archaeologist

“3-D Monitor: the use of 3-D technology to map a shipwreck”

Want to experience what it’s like at the Monitor‘s wreck site? Or maybe at a WWII U-boat? This lecture enables you to experience sites like these without having to strap on scuba gear! NOAA archaeologist, Joe Hoyt, will discuss ongoing work within the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary and at other wreck sites within the Graveyard of the Atlantic using 3-D imagining techniques.

Saturday December 10, 2016 @ 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Presented by: John V. Quarstein, Director, USS Monitor Center & Foundation

“Gibraltar of the Confederacy – Fort Fisher”

Wilmington, North Carolina on the Cape Fear River was perhaps the most effective blockade runners’ port – trading cotton and tobacco for munitions, medicines, clothing, and other war material. Located 29 miles upriver from the Atlantic Ocean, it was defended by a series of forts of which the most important was Fort Fisher. Named for Colonel Charles Fisher of the 6th North Carolina, who was killed at 1st Manassas, the fort was the largest seacoast earthen fortification in the world. The Federals endeavored to capture the fort 23-27 December 1864 by a joint operation commanded by Major General Benjamin Butler and Rear Admiral David Porter; yet, the expedition failed. A second amphibious assault descended on Fort Fisher on 13-15 January 1865. This assault successfully closed the last port available to support the Confederate armies in the east.