A collection of items, images, and texts; this exhibit follows the progression of maritime history through the early modern period, with a focus on European voyaging, conquest, and colonization throughout the world. It covers the period from Columbus’ voyage to America in 1492, to the British Abolition of the slave trade in 1807 and follows European explorers and conquerors around the world on their quest for maritime dominance. The exhibit explores both major events that forever altered the trajectory of world history and the broader trends throughout Europe and her dominions. It gives a primary focus to economic and political impacts of maritime enterprises; particularly with regard to events such as voyages of discovery, commerce, and the slave trade. It also broadens its focus by touching on related points such as naval innovation and looking ahead to the legacy of the early modern period: the rise of colonization. It also attempts to push back on some of the stereotypes that have long portrayed maritime and nautical history in highly Eurocentric terms. Instead, the exhibit highlights the independence of Asian markets, and the reciprocal nature of information exchange during the period. This exhibit is not intended to give a comprehensive description of maritime history during the early modern period, but rather to offer an outline and an argument for how Europe built on its maritime foundation to venture beyond its borders, conquer countless cultures, and to establish the colonial world that would come to characterize European power in the modern period.


McLain Sidmore