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In American Waters: The Sea in American Painting


For over 200 years, artists have been inspired to capture the beauty, violence, poetry, and transformative power of the sea in American life. Oceans play a key role in American society no matter where we live, and still today, the sea continues to inspire painters to capture its mystery and power.

In American Waters is a new exhibition in which marine painting is revealed to be so much more than ship portraits. Visitors will be transported across time and water on the wave of a diverse range of modern and historical artists including Georgia O’Keeffe, Amy Sherald, Kay WalkingStick, Norman Rockwell, Hale Woodruff, Paul Cadmus, Thomas Hart Benton, Jacob Lawrence, Valerie Hegarty, Stuart Davis, and many more. In this exhibition, visitors will also discover the sea as an expansive way to reflect on American culture and environment, learn how coastal and maritime symbols moved inland across the United States, and question what it means to be “in American waters.”

In American Waters is co-created by Austen Bailly, chief curator, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and Daniel Finamore, The Russell W. Knight Curator of Maritime Art and History, Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. The exhibition will debut at Peabody Essex Museum on May 29, 2021 and is accompanied by a major multi-author illustrated publication published by Crystal Bridges and the University of Arkansas Press.

This exhibition is co-organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.

Adults: $12

Members, SNAP participants, Veterans, and Youth 18 and Under: FREE

SNAP participants, please call 479.657.2335 to enroll for free entry to temporary exhibitions.

Not a member? Join today!


Per CDC’s updated guidelines, we are now requiring all guests ages 2 and up and staff to wear a face covering indoors and while attending outdoor programs, except while eating or drinking. Masks will be available upon entry for those who do not have one.


In American Waters PEMcast: Our Connection to the Sea
William Trost Richards, Along the Shore

In American Waters PEMcast: Our Connection to the Sea


PEMcast producer Dinah Cardin asked Crystal Bridges visitors: what is your experience with the sea?

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Return to the Sea: In American Waters Opens at Peabody Essex Museum
Ship Southern Cross in Boston Harbor by Fitz Henry Lane

Return to the Sea: In American Waters Opens at Peabody Essex Museum


In American Waters opens today at Peabody Essex Museum. Check out their PEMcast episode here.

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Supported in part by


Bob and Becky Alexander, Harrison and Rhonda French Family, Marybeth and Micky Mayfield, Sue and Charles Redfield, and Jeff and Sarah Teague | Citizens Bank, James Zigras

10th Anniversary Season Recognition



Fitz Henry Lane (1804-1865)
Southern Cross in Boston Harbor, 1851
Oil on canvas
25 1/4 x 38 in. (64.1 x 96.5 cm)
Gift of Stephen Wheatland, 1987
Courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum

Edward Moran (1829 – 1901) The Valley in the Sea, 1862
Oil on canvas
49 ¼ x 73 ¼ x 4 ¼ in. (125.1 x 186.1 x 10.8 cm)
Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, Martha Delzell Memorial Fund, 70.5,

Jan Matulka
View from Ship, about 1932
Oil on canvas
36 × 30 in. (91.4 × 76.2 cm)
Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of C. K. Williams II, 2015-8-1
Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Reproduced with Permission, The Estate of Jan Matulka.

James Bard (1815-1897)
Steamer Syracuse, 1857
Oil on canvas
29 1/4 × 51 1/4 in. (74.3 × 130.2 cm)
Gift of the estate of Francis B. C. Bradlee, 1928
Courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum

Howard Pyle (1853-1911)
Marooned, 1909
Oil on canvas
40 x 60 in.
Delaware Art Museum
Museum Purchase, 1912