CASTINE, Maine — The Castine Historical Society and the Wilson Museum have arranged a joint exhibit, “Celebrating Allie Ryan’s Maritime Passion,” on display through Sept. 30 at the Wilson Museum, 120 Perkins St.
The exhibit is contains 46 items from the Allie Ryan collection recently given to the society and the museum by the Maine State Museum in Augusta, including four models of steamboats built by Capt. James I. Stinson (1881-1965), a friend of Allie’s and, himself, an avid collector. The prize of the four models is the Steamer Castine. The original steamboat, built in 1889 at the Barbour yard in Brewer, Maine, was 71.1 feet long and enjoyed 46 years of service in Penobscot Bay. Another gem is a Currier and Ives print of the Steamboat Penobscot. The design of its paddlewheel cover has been incorporated in the title of this special exhibit.
Allie Ryan (1904-1992), a native son of Crotch Island in Stonington, Maine, grew up in a world dominated by the rhythms of time and tide, watching steamships laden with freight and passengers plying the waters. His youthful fascination grew into a passion for collecting maritime artifacts and studying maritime history. Self-educated, he became an expert on the subject of eastern steam shipping authoring numerous articles and with Down East Enterprise producing “Penobscot Bay, Mount Desert and Eastport Steamboat Album.”
At his home in South Brooksville, Ryan amassed an impressive collection — an eclectic mix of photographs, books, models, paintings, documents and artifacts acquired through his travels during WWII, at auctions, antique sales and building demolitions. He shared both his collection and his expertise with museums and libraries. He had an eye for items of significance, and his collection served as the basis for many museum exhibits.
In the mid-1970s, Ryan donated his collection to the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine. The collection was later transferred to the Maine State Museum where it has been preserved for many years. In addition to the items recently given to the Castine Historical Society and the Wilson Museum, the Maine State Museum also gave selections from the Ryan collection to the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport and to the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath. Appreciation is extended to the Maine State Museum for sharing a part of this incredible collection with the museum community and its visitors.