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Tattoo History Exhibit Takes Over Half of East End Seaport Museum

'Tattoo: The Art of the Sailor' examines tattoo history and showcases local people with their own tattoos and stories — just in time for Greenport's Tall Ships Festival Memorial Day Weekend.

Board member Keith McCamy is fascinated by the history of the tattoo — and with all the unique and personal stories associated with the famed form of body art.

“Through tattoos, you have a fascinating glimpse into history and other cultures,” he said. “Sailors have been wearing tattoos for 300 years, since the days of Captain Cook. No one really wrote about them too much, the stories were always passed along orally."

McCamy, the museum’s exhibit curator and website architect, and Greenport artist Arden Scott have worked for months putting together display, which takes over half of the museum and will open to the public just in time for the hoopla. Maritime tattoos and contemporary examples of tattoos will be on view May 26 through Oct. 8.

The idea for the display came to McCamy in March — before the Tall Ships festival was even on the table.

“I know that other museums have done tattoo shows, and we got lucky with the tie-in to the Tall Ships,” he said.

Mannequins with painted-on tattoos from different eras — including “Sailor Boy,” painted by local artist Megan Barron — are on display along with poster boards of familiar local people who shared their own tattoo stories. Those featured include , Greenport Baptist Church Pastor , longtime Southold resident Verna Fitzpatrick, and Crystal Keller of

Though Scott said she does not have a tattoo herself, she said she was happy to design the show. She added that all the stories on display will be submitted to the National Archive of American Tattoos.

The museum had a private opening of the display this past Friday. Tattoo artists like will set up shop during the festival next weekend and a tattoo contest will take place this coming Sunday at at 3 p.m.

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