Maine’s oldest marine museum will open for its 75th year Friday, May 27 with new exhibits ranging from contemporary art to historic artifacts. Penobscot Marine Museum will host a free reception at 5:30 p.m. on opening day to give visitors a taste of this year’s exhibits and a chance to meet some of the exhibiting artists and the museum’s new executive director.

The signature exhibit for the year, “75 for 75,” will showcase 75 artifacts from the museum’s 75 years. Ranging from marine paintings and domestic artifacts to ship models and full-size boats, “75 for 75” is spread across several of the museum’s 13 buildings. It offers kind of a capsule history of the museum, said the museum’s curator, Ben Fuller.

A second new exhibit, “The Art of the Boat,” will present works by more than 50 contemporary painters, sculptors and photographers exploring the themes of the boat as a work of art and the boatbuilder as artist. The exhibit was juried by a panel consisting of an art writer and critic, a yacht designer, an artist and an art collector, who selected from more than 300 submitted works in all media. The exhibit is presented to honor the memory of George S. Wasson, a Maine artist, author and boatbuilder who was one of the museum’s spiritual founders 75 years ago.

“We asked artists to balance the art that is in the boat with their own artistic vision,” said Fuller.

“The Art of the Boat” artists are Shlomit Auciello, Nancy Barnes, Bill Barton, Roberta Bauman Gardello, Thomas Bernardi, Gordon Bok, Edgar Boyd, Sam Cady, Peter Chase, Jim Counihan, Tillman Crane, Lee Cummings, Rebecca Daugherty, Antonio Dias, Gregory Dunham, Terry Elkins, Deborah Ellis, John Higdon, Terry Hire, Andrew Katz, Richard Keen, Beri Kramer, Ann Krumrein, Loretta Krupinski, Allison Lakin, Alison Langley, Leslie Seaver, Lin Lisberger, John Lorence, Steven Lush, Edward Mackenzie, Bryan McCarthy, Benjamin Mendlowitz, Sam Minot, Linda Norton, Harvey Peterson, Edward Porter, Willy Reddick, Anna Shaw, Lynne Shulman, Buckley Smith, Christopher Smith, Mark Sutherland, Sarah Szwajkos, Dan Tobyne, Jen Torres, Andreas Von Huene, Jim Walker, Dan West, Amy Peters Wood and Rosemary Wyman.

The museum also has renovated one of its longest-running exhibits so comprehensively that it constitutes a third new exhibit in many ways. “Working the Bay” tells the story of the economic evolution of the Penobscot region, focusing on industries such as quarrying, lumber, fishing and shipbuilding; and it includes several new hands-on features for younger visitors.

The opening day reception will take place in the Main Street Gallery, where “The Art of the Boat” is on display. The museum’s new executive director, Liz Lodge, will be on hand to meet the public, as will be several of the exhibiting artists.

The museum’s season will run through Oct. 23. Hours will be Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $8; $3 children age 7 through 15; and free for younger children, members and Searsport residents. Group rates are available. For more information, call 548-2529 or visit penobscotmarinemuseum.org.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email to dernest@villagesoup.com.