Among the many photography shows around the state during this Maine Photo Project year is “Through Her Lens: Women Photographers of Mid-Coast Maine, 1890-1920” at Penobscot Marine Museum. One of four exhibits of the museum’s season-long “Exploring the Magic of Photography: Painting with Light,” “Through Her Lens” offers a sampling of work by four female photographers, pioneers at a time when the still-new medium was dominated by men.

Two of the women were the daughters of sea captains and traveled around the world. Two ended up running photography businesses, producing the very period-popular postcards. And one, Ida E. Shepherd Crie, was a lifelong resident of Rockland who documented life in the bustling city, with occasional forays to other parts of the country (including three world's fairs).

Crie’s great-great-granddaughter Alice Crie Knight inherited Crie’s plates and prints  — in barrels, she said — in the 1960s. A few years ago, she donated them to the Rockland Historical Society, which is when Penobscot Marine Museum first got wind of the collection. PMM Photo Archives Assistant Matt Wheeler was introduced to Knight at last year’s Rockland Historical Society Postcard Show (the 2015 edition takes place over Columbus Day weekend; see the story linked below).

For “Through Her Lens,” Wheeler spent an hour recording Knight as she shared what she knew about Crie; the skilled amateur photographer died before Knight was born but still made an impression, thanks to stories told by Knight’s mother and other family members. From that recording, the museum produced a few short audio clips that can be accessed while walking through the exhibit.

“We applied for a grant from the Maine Humanities Council … it was fairly involved. We purchased the tablets and a kiosk to enhance the exhibit,” he said, adding that those items will be part of future exhibits, as well.

The multimedia aspects include giving museumgoers the ability to hear the oral history recordings via smartphone QR codes or, for the phoneless, the new tablets.

“We also collaborated with two University of Maine professors, Alison Huff and Libby Bishof [USM], in curating the selection from the five [photo] collections,” said Wheeler.

The professors provided what Wheeler called very well researched captions for the images of “Through Her Lens.”

“I think the exhibit is an excellent piece of work,” said Wheeler.

Not that Huff and Bishof necessarily found definitive descriptions of what’s going on and who is in each image. Many of those particulars are lost to the years gone by. But their captions provide informative glimpses into the turn-of-the-20th-century life and times captured in the often lengthy exposures.

“I knew they were historical,” said Wheeler of Crie’s photographs, “but I was struck at how talented she was, with a truly unusual eye in a lot of cases,” he said.

“Oh, she was into everything,” said Knight, both in person and on tape. “She was a smart lady!”

Crie never went to college, but she graduated from high school, which meant she could be a teacher herself, and she was, at Rockland’s long-gone Oak Grove School. Knight said her great-great-grandmother loved new inventions and was known for giving a fireless cooker — sort of a pre-electric Crock-Pot — to her friends.

Crie’s husband and father-in-law owned H.H. Crie & Co., a hardware-store-and-then-some that enjoyed many successful years in downtown Rockland (where the FOG Bar & Café and Black Parrot are located now). The family had a comfortable life, and Crie enjoyed the freedom to pursue her many interests, including city social organizations and the Shakespeare Society of Rockland, organized in 1889 and still active today.

Whether at home, on the beach, at events or traveling, Crie lugged her big camera with her and took images. One home, a fine little bungalow on Broadway, is now in a sad state of limbo, having been the victim of a fire and a car crash, but the family environment appears in its lively heyday in the Crie collection. So do friends, outdoor attractions, animals, quarries and even a Boston operating room. Crie seems to have been a keen and affectionate observer of the world around her.

“Oh, she was something else,” said Knight.

“Through Her Lens” also features photographs by Harriet Hichborn of Stockton Springs, another one-time local teacher whose life had a more troubled outline; the seagoing Ruth Montgomery and Joanna Colcord, names familiar to regular Penobscot Marine Museum attendees; and Bangor/Blue Hill's Evie Barbour. The exhibit features interesting biographies of each woman, as well as selections of their work and related oral histories and/or commentaries.

Penobscot Marine Museum is open through Sunday, Oct. 18, downtown on Route 1. Hours are Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. All of the “Exploring the Magic of Photography” shows may be seen online and will remain open for virtual “walk-throughs” even when the museum doors close for the season. For more information, visit