The enormous influence of photography on how we see ourselves and how we see our culture is the subject of Penobscot Marine Museum’s 2014 History Conference, Exploring the Magic of Photography: Painting with Light, Saturday, Nov. 1, from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the University of Maine’s Hutchinson Center, 80 Belmont Ave./Route 3.

The History Conference brings together scholars, professionals and the public to explore new ideas on topics relating to the museum’s collections. This year’s conference complements the museum’s extensive photographic collection of more than 140,000 images that document life in New England from the late 19th to the mid-20th centuries.

Speakers at the History Conference will present six illustrated talks: Maine State Museum’s Deanna Bonner-Ganter will talk about the famous images of LIFE photographer Kosti Ruohomaa; Libby Bischof of the University of Southern Maine on the lives and work of four 19th-century Maine female photographers; retired Beloit College Professor Michael Simon on the importance of the snapshot; Maine historian and author Bill Bunting on discovering hidden photographic treasures; photographer Sam Murfitt on capturing the disappearing traditions of the fishing industry; and Colby College professor Laura Saltz will speak on the surprising influence literature and photography exert on each other.

The History Conference is a part of Penobscot Marine Museum’s 2015 exhibition “Exploring the Magic of Photography: Painting with Light.”  The exhibit, opening May 23, will include opportunities for visitors to develop film in a darkroom using historic methods; make their own pin-hole cameras; and have a tintype photograph taken with historic equipment. It also will include a walk-in Camera Obscura, an exhibit of extraordinary Maine female photographers and behind-the-scenes tours of Penobscot Marine Museum’s extensive photography archives.

The exhibit is part of the Maine Photo Project, a yearlong, statewide collaboration that celebrates photography in Maine. Twenty-seven participating museums, galleries, historical societies and other non-profit cultural organizations will offer public exhibitions, a major publication and a variety of programs exploring the state’s role as a magnet for photographers, both as a subject and as a unique place for introspection, discourse and innovation.

For more information about the 2014 History Conference, including schedule, or to purchase tickets, visit or call 548-2529.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or