Artist-in-Residence Program

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation established the Artist-in-Residence Program in partnership with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries because art both teaches and inspires people. The paintings commissioned through this program introduce us to national marine sanctuaries in a new light, revealing key moments in time and depicting unique perspectives. Through these works of art, we hope that Americans will discover their own connection to the ocean and to national marine sanctuaries – places that represent the best of the American ocean.


From February 2013 to his passing in June 2015, Tom W. Freeman served as the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s Artist-in-Residence for NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary System.

Freeman was one of the most respected painters of the American maritime experience. His work hangs in galleries and museums across the nation – from the White House, to the Smithsonian, to your local gallery or art store. NMSF is honored that Freeman used his talents to create detailed and evocative paintings that shine a bright light on the unseen wonder and people stories that make our national marine sanctuaries so special to all of us.

As NMSF's Artist-in-Residence, Freeman captured important moments from our nation's maritime history and emphasized the need for increased ocean stewardship. His work is showcased below.

NMSF's Statement on the Passing of Tom Freeman

"A Sanctuary Protects Stellwagen Bank"
The Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary conserves marine mammals through public engagement and research partnerships.

The painting was unveilied at a ceremony at Boston's USS Constitution Museum on May 14, 2014. Read the press release.

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"The Charles W. Morgan’s 38th Voyage"
The 38th voyage of the Charles W. Morgan finds its way to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary as an ambassador from whaling to watching.

The painting was unveilied at a ceremony at Boston's USS Constitution Museum on May 14, 2014. Read the press release.

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"Seeking Sanctuary"
This piece depicting an entangled humpback whale brings attention to the dangers that marine debris poses to this endangered species. Marine mammal entanglement is a global problem and since 2002 more than 68 humpbacks have been confirmed as entangled in the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. The painting underscores the importance of programs like the community-based Hawaiian Islands Entanglement Response Network, which has successfully freed 17 humpbacks from life-threatening entanglements.

On August 22, 2013 Dan Basta, director of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, presented the painting to Hawai`i Governor Neil Aberecrombie on behalf of NMSF. Read the press release.

"Mr. Lincoln's Sanctuary"
The USS Monitor was acclaimed by President Abraham Lincoln as the ship that helped save the Union. This painting commemorates Lincoln’s historic visit to the Civil War-era ironclad that revolutionized naval warfare and depicts Lincoln shaking hands with an African-American crew member while other crew members watch in the background.

On July 22, 1862, Lincoln presented a draft Emancipation Proclamation to his Cabinet. Some historians have surmised that in Monitor’s crew, as well as other Civil War ships where men served together regardless of race, creed or national origin, the President saw proof that the dream he envisioned in the Emancipation Proclamation would come true.

The Monitor sank off the coast of Cape Hatteras, N.C. in December of 1862 and its remains became the site of our nation's first national marine sanctuary - the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary - in 1975.

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