Former sailor turns hobby into museum

POINT PLEASANT — Several years ago, Kelly Fields was in search of a special edition Navy girl Barbie Doll.

A coworker told her that she would only be able to find them online. After searching on EBay, a new place for Fields, she discovered a world of Navy posters and began collecting – a hobby which has turned into a museum full of original work and a wealth of knowledge about Naval history through posters.

“I started seeing things for sale when I was looking for this (Navy doll) and I found posters,” said Fields. “I always wanted to be in the Navy because of this poster my uncle had, so I started to search for it.”

Since 2002 Fields has collected innumerable posters that she now shares with the public at the Point Pleasant Navy Poster Museum, which opened on the weekend of the Mothman Festival three years ago. Not all of the posters on display are originals, many are reprints by the Navy.

The museum has a wide variety of posters for visitors to take in, ranging from the Spanish-American War in 1898, all the way to recent conflicts and their related posters. The museum has three sections featuring three major artists from World War II: Matt Murphey, McClelland Barclay, and John Faulkner.

“All three were in the Navy during World War II, and only Faulkner lived through the war. It was quite a sacrifice that they made,” said Fields.

The museum also features work by James Burbank, who produced art during the 1930’s for the Navy. Some sections feature a particular artist’s work, a given theme such as submarines, Navy pin up girls, “WAVES” posters encouraging women to join the Women for Volunteer Emergency Service, and “Loose Lips Sink Ships”, posters encouraging the public to not talk about Navy ship locations.

“My favorite artist is Matt Murphey,” said Fields. “When I started collecting I was attracted to his work because they had signal flags, and I was a signalman in the Navy.”

Murphey was a relatively unknown artist, and Fields has researched his life. Fields bought a photograph of a Navy Artist for sale on EBay, which happened to be of Murphey. From there Fields was able to track down where he was from and learn more about his life.

“The reason he is so obscure is because he wasn’t a famous guy like McClelland and Faulkner,” said Fields. Her work and research has led to her be teamed up with another fan of Murphey’s work. The fruit of their labor has created a website about Murphey, creating a log of his life as they continue to learn more about him.

The museum is open Saturday and Sunday from Noon to 5 p.m. and posts updates to their Facebook page. Find them on Facebook by searching U.S. Navy Poster Museum.

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Fields is standing with the Navy Girl Barbie Doll that started it all, eventually leading to the current Navy Poster Museum. is standing with the Navy Girl Barbie Doll that started it all, eventually leading to the current Navy Poster Museum. Morgan McKinniss|OVP

By Morgan McKinniss

Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342 ext 2108 or