The Kendall Maritime Collections contain a variety of artworks, photographs, documents and artifacts related to marine research and exploration: maritime art, history and archaeology; yachts and sailing; diving and underwater photography.
The Research and Exploration archive includes records of the family company Spice Island Traders, owners of the research vessels Abel-J, Ida-Z, and Annandale, which worked closely with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, the New England Aquarium, NOAA, and other scientific and governmental institutions, as well as film crews, undertaking numerous voyages for scientific research and exploration purposes, including to Antarctica, Greenland, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. It also includes extensive underwater photography by Henry W. Kendall, and much of his diving gear, including some of his innovations in equipment.
The Maritime Art and History collection consists primarily of the artworks, writings and memorabilia of American/Canadian maritime artist and historian William Gilkerson (b. 1936). It includes 60 of his original paintings and drawings, an equal number of prints and lithographs, eight study books of sketches, vessel logbooks, manuscripts, and published works on pirates, naval warfare and other maritime subjects, providing a comprehensive retrospective of his artistic and literary career.
The Yachts and Sailing archive contains plans and drawings, photographs, logbooks and memorabilia related to sailing vessels owned by Henry P. Kendall and his sons, including several yachts designed by L. Francis Herreshoff and an exact replica of a 19th-century whaleboat.