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Lectures

Our lectures cover a wide range of maritime topics. Catch a Civil War Lecture or a new lecture series about Hampton Roads History with John V. Quarstein during the day. Or attend an evening lecture led by experts and maritime authors.

Civil War Lectures and Hampton Roads History Lectures are free with Museum admission, and Evening lectures are $5 per person. All these lectures are also FREE to Mariners’ Museum Members.

RSVP for any of the lectures online to guarantee a spot, as seating can be limited.

Larry E. Tise


Civil War Lectures

 

Please join John Quarstein, renowned historian and director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center, as he teaches about the intriguing maritime history of the Civil War. This long-running series explores the ships, personalities, technologies, and battles that would shape our nation for the next 150 years.

Civil War lectures are free with Museum admission, and FREE for Mariners’ Museum Members. Reserving a seat is suggested as seating is limited. See each lecture below.

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.


15 FEB

Gustavus Vasa Fox

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

Saturday, February 15, 2020 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

FREE with $1 Museum admission

Gustavus Vasa Fox was appointed midshipman in 1838 and served during the Mexican War on the brig USS Washington. He resigned his commission in 1856 to go into wool manufacturing. Fox volunteered for naval service just before the Civil War erupted. Fox took command of the steamer Baltic in an effort to take supplies to the besieged Fort Sumter, but arrived too late. He was only able to return the garrison to the North after the fort’s surrender. Fox was named Assistant Secretary of the Navy on August 1, 1861, and played a major role guiding the US Navy to victory.

The lecture will be held in a classroom in the Museum. Please confirm upon check in at Visitor Services the classroom and location of the lecture.

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7 MAR

European Ironclad Evolution: 1855 to 1870
Technological Change in Action

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

Saturday, March 7, 2020 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

FREE with $1 Museum admission

The Battle of Sinope on November 30, 1853, ended the era of wooden ships. The Russian fleet, armed with shell guns, was able to completely destroy a Turkish fleet. Wooden walls simply could not withstand the devastating effect of explosive shells. Accordingly, during the Crimean War, the English and the French developed iron-cased floating batteries to destroy Russian fixed fortifications, but these vessels were slow and unseaworthy. Consequently, the French built the frigate La Gloire, using iron-hulled fabrication; and the British constructed two iron frigates: HMS Warrior and HMS Black Prince.

The Battle of Sinope on November 30, 1853, ended the era of wooden ships. The Russian fleet, armed with shell guns, was able to completely destroy a Turkish fleet. Wooden walls simply could not withstand the devastating effect of explosive shells. Accordingly, during the Crimean War, the English and the French developed iron-cased floating batteries to destroy Russian fixed fortifications, but these vessels were slow and unseaworthy. Consequently, the French built the frigate La Gloire, using iron-hulled fabrication; and the British constructed two iron frigates: HMS Warrior and HMS Black Prince.

The lecture will be held in the Huntington room. Please confirm room location upon check in at Visitor Services. Reserving a seat is suggested as seating is limited.

RSVP Here


Evening 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 either the night of the lecture or in advance online.

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 6:00 PM
Unless otherwise noted, lectures are held in the Main Lobby of The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

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.

 

 

Open for dinner before evening lectures!

Full menu is available from 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM. Grab a meal, snack or cup of coffee before the lecture begins.  View the menu

Lecture Dates & Titles:


13 FEB

The Stowaway

A Young Man’s Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica

Presented by journalist and author Laurie Gwen Shapiro

Thursday, February 13, 2020 • 7:00 PM

It was 1928: a time of illicit booze, of Gatsby and Babe Ruth, of freewheeling fun. The Great War was over. American optimism was higher than the stock market. What better moment to launch an expedition to Antarctica, the planet’s final frontier? Everyone wanted in on the adventure. Rockefellers and Vanderbilts begged to go along as mess boys. Newspapers across the globe covered the mission’s planning stage. And then, the night before the expedition’s flagship set off, Billy Gawronski—a mischievous, first-generation New York City high schooler, desperate to escape a dreary future in the family upholstery business—jumped into the Hudson River and snuck aboard. Could he get away with it?

Meet journalist and documentary filmmaker Laurie Gwen Shapiro as she takes readers on the “novelistic” (The New Yorker) and unforgettable voyage of a plucky teen who became a Roaring Twenties celebrity. This Indie Next selection, The Stowaway, is her first non-fiction book.

 

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Author: Laurie Gwen Shapiro


Online book sales – Coming Soon!


5 MAR

Bitter Waters

America’s Forgotten Naval Mission to the Dead Sea

Presented by best-selling author David Haward Bain

Thursday, March 5, 2020 • 7:00 PM

Come hear the fascinating tale about two Virginians, Lieutenant William Francis Lynch and his friend Matthew Fontaine Maury, from best-selling author David Haward Bain in his book, Bitter Waters. In 1848, an American exploring expedition was sent to the Holy Land to solve geographical puzzles and reply to ancient superstitions with modern scientific reasoning. Lynch, in command of USS Supply, led a small land party inland from the Mediterranean shore in Palestine, hauling two metal lifeboats for the sacred River Jordan and the Dead Sea, through often hostile Arab tribal lands.

The compelling story of Lynch’s exploits, and Maury’s parallel 19th-century journey, in helping to modernize the American Navy and perfecting the US National Observatory, “details one of the most hazardous, yet by now almost forgotten, attempts to roll back the veil of mystery and legend and reveal scientific truths,” as noted in the Roanoke Times.

 

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Author: David Haward Bain


Online book sales – Coming Soon!


9 APR

Chasing the Cup

An America’s Cup Update Featuring American Magic

Presented by America’s Cup host Tucker Thompson

Thursday, April 9, 2020 • 7:00 PM

Join award-winning TV commentator, producer, and America’s Cup host Tucker Thompson for a sneak peek into the next America’s Cup, sailing’s highest prize. On a nationwide speaking tour featuring New York Yacht Club American Magic, Thompson returns to The Mariners’ Museum to share the storied history of the oldest international trophy in sports. He will give an insider’s look at the Cup’s new class of boat – , AC75 – foiling monohulls, considered the future of Cup racing.

Sailing fans will get an exclusive view of NYYC’s American Magic, leaving with an insight on what to expect in New Zealand in March 2021 when all eyes will be following the 36th America’s Cup.

Sponsored in part by The Moorings® and Quantum.

 

RSVP Here

America’s Cup Host: Tucker Thompson


Online book sales – Coming Soon!


7 MAY

Blood Money

The Caribbean’s Crucial Role in the U.S. Civil War

Presented by award-winning author Robert N. Macomber

Thursday, May 7, 2020 • 7:00 PM

Blockade-runners, Confederate ocean raiders, Union blockade squadrons, US Navy shipwrecks causing international incidents, clandestine arming of new warships, and desperate preparations for the final naval battle of the Civil War are all part of the action as Robert N. Macomber, an award-winning author and internationally acclaimed lecturer, takes a fascinating look at the Caribbean’s role in the American Civil War. From the war’s beginning to its tumultuous end, Spanish Cuba, the British Bahamas, French Mexico, and the Danish West Indies were the scenes of fantastic profits, naval skullduggery, and political intrigue, and Macomber will tell all.

Best known for his 14 Honor Series novels, Macomber’s maritime thrillers describe the life and career of his protagonist, US naval officer Peter Wake, from the Civil War in Florida to beyond the Spanish-American War in 1898. Admired across the globe for his work on the page and the stage, Macomber illuminates significant historical events with inimitable enthusiasm.

 

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Author: Robert N. Macomber


Online book sales – Coming Soon!


24 SEP

A Furious Sky

The Five-Hundred-Year History of America’s Hurricanes

Presented by best-selling historian Eric Jay Dolin

Thursday, September, 2020 • 7:00 PM

Hurricanes have had a profound and surprising impact on American history. Now, best-selling historian and author of Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America’s Most Notorious Pirates, Eric Jay Dolin returns to present a story on five hundred years of American hurricanes.

His latest book, A Furious Sky, due for release in June, spans centuries from the nameless storms that threatened Columbus’s New World voyages to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico three years ago. Dolin’s narrative is populated with unlikely heroes such as Benito Viñes, the 19th-century Jesuit priest whose methods for predicting hurricanes saved countless lives, and journalist Dan Rather, whose coverage of a 1961 hurricane would change broadcasting history.

A necessary work of environmental and cultural history, A Furious Sky will change the way we understand the greatest storms on Earth, looming on the horizon of America’s future.

 

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Historian: Eric Jay Dolin


Online book sales – Coming Soon!


Hampton Roads History

 

Join John V. Quarstein, a noted historian, author, and director emeritus of USS Monitor Center, in a new lecture series as he dives into significant events in our nation’s history and examines their direct ties to the Hampton Roads region.

These lectures will be held on select Saturdays, and will be located upstairs in the Monitor Center Classrooms.

Hampton Roads History Lectures are free with $1 Museum admission, and FREE for Mariners’ Museum Members. Reserving a seat is suggested as seating is limited. See each lecture below.

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.


8 FEB

The Apprentice School: Celebrating a Century

Presented by author William A. Fox

Saturday, February 8, 2020 • 2:30 – 3:30 PM

William “Bill” Fox’s ties to Newport News Shipbuilding run deep. A respected naval architect, professional engineer, researcher, and writer, Fox was honored when the company asked him to write the centennial history of its renowned and nationally recognized Apprentice School.

Newport News Shipbuilding, founded in 1886, is the nation’s largest shipbuilder, building the world’s most complex ships – nuclear powered aircraft carriers and submarines for the US Navy. Its success is due in no small part to the Apprentice School, which has educated and trained more than 10,000 craftsmen and women, middle managers, and company executives over the last 100 years.

Informal apprentice training began early on. The school’s first certificate was awarded to machinist Norwood L. Jones in 1894. Today, the Apprentice School continues to train and educate hundreds of employees, with many becoming 40-year Master Shipbuilders. An industry icon, the school annually attracts more applicants than it can accept, and thousands of loyal alumni share the “Builders” spirit.

Attendees are welcome to join author and special guest speaker Bill Fox after the lecture for a book signing.

 

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Author: William A. Fox


29 FEB

Henry E. “Eddie” Huntington

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

Saturday, February 29, 2020 • 2:30 – 3:30 PM

Henry Edward Huntington was the nephew of railroad magnate Collis Potter Huntington. He worked with his uncle to create the Southern Pacific Railway, which helped to expand the port of Los Angeles. He created the Pacific Electric Railway which contained 1,300-miles of track and enabled the development of suburban communities like Huntington Beach in Southern California. When Eddie’s uncle died, he assumed leadership of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company until his death in 1927. A major collector of art and books, his home in San Marino, California, is now the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. Both Southern California and the Virginia Peninsula benefited immensely from Henry E. Huntington’s leadership and wisdom.

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18 APR

The Jamestown Exposition and Other ‘Lost’ Attractions

Presented by Nancy E. Sheppard, special guest speaker

Saturday, April 18, 2020 • 2:30 – 3:30 PM

In 1907, the grounds of Tidewater’s only World’s Fair, the Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition, opened its gates in Norfolk. In the months that followed, the Exposition hosted dignitaries, famous figures, and was a wondrous playground that launched the Great White Fleet from its piers.

Join author and historian, Nancy E. Sheppard, as she takes you on a tour of this grand fair, learn more about its vital role in American history, its successes and failures, and what happened to the Exposition’s legacy.

Attendees are welcome to join special guest speaker Nancy E. Sheppard after the lecture for a book signing.

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22 AUG

Founding of Newport News

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

Saturday, August 22, 2020 • 2:30 – 3:30 PM

The place “Newport News” first appeared on a Dutch map, circa 1617. The name is believed to be based on Captain Christopher Newport’s five trips from England, beginning in 1607, to the New World, bringing settlers, supplies, and ‘news’ to Jamestown Colony. Newport News became internationally famous as from there, soldiers and citizens watched the first battle between ironclad ships. This site, where the James River flows into Hampton Roads, was recognized by railroad magnate Collis Potter Huntington as ideal for industrial development. Huntington then began the creation of the city of Newport News, Virginia, which quickly became a leading port city, railroad center, and home to the largest private shipyard in the United States.

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26 SEP

Airship ROMA: A Forgotten Tragedy

Presented by Nancy E. Sheppard, special guest speaker

Saturday, September 26, 2020 • 2:30 – 3:30 PM

On February 21, 1922, the U.S. Army dirigible, ROMA, crashed in Norfolk. Killing 34 of the 45 brave officers, crew, and civilians on board, this was the single deadliest disaster of a U.S. hydrogen airship. Despite the bravery of the crew and the notoriety in American history, this disaster has been forgotten to history.

Join author and historian, Nancy E. Sheppard, as she takes you on ROMA’s harrowing journey to failure and get to know the men that served on board in this story filled with heroism, intrigue, love, and loss.

Attendees are welcome to join special guest speaker Nancy E. Sheppard after the lecture for a book signing.

RSVP Here