Current Exhibit

Photographing Belfast's Waterfront: Then & Now

Friday, June 18 – Sunday, August 29, 2021

At the center of Belfast’s long and colorful history is its dynamic waterfront. From boat building to chicken, sardine and potato processing, Belfast’s shoreline has evolved and transformed with the changing tides of industry, economic cycles, and tourism. Today, we enjoy public access and recreation opportunities alongside a working shipyard.

This extensive photography exhibition explores how Belfast’s identity has evolved –and how it has stayed the same– in tandem with the varied activities and bustle of its harbor. Held at Waterfall Arts in partnership with the Penobscot Marine Museum and the Belfast Historical Society and Museum, the show includes historic images as well as photographs from over a dozen contemporary photographers. The featured works reveal the rich maritime history, commerce, recreation and scenic beauty of Belfast’s waterfront, as documented over the last several decades.

Liv Kristin Robinson, lead curator, has been documenting the evolving Belfast harbor since 1988 and is known for her hand-painted photographic works of the Belfast waterfront, several of which are in the permanent collections of the Portland Museum of Art and the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland. Other participating photographers include: Marcie J. Bronstein, Leslie Gregory, Susan Guthrie, Betsy Headley, Jaap Helder, Terry Hire, Kevin Johnson, Lynn Karlin, Mark Kuzio, Ben Magro, Peggy McKenna, Richard Norton, Neal Parent, and Louise Shorette.

This exhibition would not be possible without the curatorial support of Kevin Johnson of the Penobscot Marine Museum and Megan Pinette of the Belfast Historical Society and Museum.


On Friday, June 18th, 5-7pm, Waterfall Arts opened our doors and Gallery for small group viewings. The opening event featured a poetry reading of works themed around the Belfast Waterfront, planned in collaboration with the Office of the Belfast Poet Laureate. Enjoy some images from the evening, below, or find the entire photo album here.

About the Curators

The idea of this exhibit grew out of my decades-long interest in documenting Belfast’s evolving waterfront. When I first arrived in Belfast in 1986, poultry and sardine processing and other manufacturing plants were still active industries along the shoreline. Since the Great Depression— more than a half-century earlier– economic decline had left much of Belfast’s infrastructure derelict. Belfast was then known as where the “chicken met the sea” and few tourists made it a destination when traveling up the coast.

Inspired by a chance meeting in 1988 with legendary Berenice Abbott at a Gallery 68 opening, the famous photographer admonished me to focus my camera on “what was really important– Belfast’s vanishing industrial waterfront!” And so I began taking long walks along Belfast’s neglected shoreline with its disappearing marginal landscapes. I also thought about how Belfast was changing— how young artists and other creative types who had settled in the 1970’s (when real estate was seen as affordable) had helped create a vibrant and exciting community. As a result, many others –like myself, liking the changes they saw– also wanted to call Belfast “home.” But, with their arrival had also come some of the inevitable process of gentrification and more change.

In the 1990s as part of a newly appointed Comprehensive Plan, I advocated, along with several other women from “away,” to restrict future economic activity along the waterfront to “marine-related uses only.”

In 2004 while continuing to document some of what was still left of Belfast’s marginal landscapes and industrial buildings, I made my first digital photographs and soon discovered that with some small adjustment, I could continue to emotionally color or ‘tint’ my images as I had previously done in my black and white, handpainted photographs from the 1980s and ‘90s.

I also thought about what Befast must have been like during its prosperous past with shipbuilding, commerce, tourism and local recreational opportunities. 

Today, with its vibrant waterfront, Belfast has reinvented itself and has once again become an exciting destination.

Every place changes over time but the rate of change is usually slow and gradual. It often goes unnoticed or slips under the radar of day to day life. How a place changes and evolves is a fascinating study and the photograph is the perfect medium to examine it. A photograph is much more accurate than our memories and one can fill books with the words it would take to describe the details and stories a single photo can hold. As we look at over a hundred years of Belfast’s waterfront we learn a lot about the town. There were good years and hard ones. At times it was beautiful and stately but other times it looked harsh and ugly. Each photograph captures a single moment in time, a second or less. These singular moments though, each represent a greater period of time and serve as a gateway to tell the stories of what was happening. How people lived, worked and played. It’s all part of the story, Belfast’s story, our story.

“Photographing Belfast’s Waterfront, Then and Now” is a great opportunity to showcase photographs from the Belfast Museum collection and to work in conjunction with the Penobscot Marine Museum and Kristin Robinson, show curator. Photographers have been documenting our waterfront dating back to the 1870s which gives us a broad timeline of images to draw from to illustrate this show.

Exploring Belfast's Waterfront by Megan Pinette

Click here to learn more about the historical images in the exhibition.

Curators Virtual Tour

Gallery Open Hours

Wednesday – Saturday
11:00 AM – 3:00 PM

All exhibitions are free and open to the public.

Exhibition Coverage

Upcoming Exhibits

Art Fellows: Belfast's Original Cooperative Gallery, 1980-1997

Friday, September 10 – Saturday, November 6, 2021

Attracted by the state’s unique character and way of life, artists have established communities and flourished in Maine for over a century. In 1980, a number of young Waldo County artists teamed up to form the Art Fellows, a group committed to supporting artists and to creating more local opportunities for exhibiting contemporary art. For over a decade, the Art Fellows gallery served as a hub of ingenuity, dialogue, and camaraderie. Dozens of Maine’s best-known artists got their start at Art Fellows. This show celebrates the 41st anniversary of the founding of this dynamic community, featuring works made by Art Fellows in the 1980s and 1990s, and what they are making today.


Laura Sheinkopf

Education Director

207-338-2222 ext.104


Past Exhibits

Albums of images coming soon!













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