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Maine State Museum

Maine State Museum Facts

In 1836 the Maine State Legislature voted for the creation of an exhibit space in the State House. The resolution was passed and in 1837 1,566 geological specimens were put on display. The showing, however, did terribly as it received almost no visitors. A second failed attempt at a geological exhibit occurred in 1861, at which point the State Legislature gave up, at least for a time.

The museum, at that point still in the State House, was later revived but had to close a third time in 1945 due to overcrowding in the State House in the wake of World War Two. It was revived once more in 1957, and in 1966 the Maine State Museum Commission was formed. In 1971 the Maine State Cultural Building opened, and the Maine State Museum was relocated to the new facility. In 1975 the museum was accredited by the American Association of Museums.

The Maine State Museum's collections are divided into three categories: history, prehistory and natural sciences.

The over 500,000 artifacts in the history collections at the Maine State Museum range from silver spoons to a three-story, water-powered woodworking mill. These items can be seen in five long-term exhibits covering 30,000 square feet as well as several temporary exhibits.

Collection strengths include Maine-made furniture, wood-working tools, silver, ceramics, glass, and textiles, including rug stencils and patterns from the E. S. Frost Company; over 24,000 historic images; artifacts from Maine's industrial history, especially logging, ice harvesting and textile manufacture; and artifacts relating to Maine's participation in the Civil War

The museum's archaeological collection includes prehistoric and historic materials from all over Maine, and is the largest such collection in the Northeast. The staff engages in a wide variety of multidisciplinary research relating to human interactions with the natural environment since the end of the Pleistocene Era, which leads to frequent visits by scientific colleagues and the public.

Natural Science:
The Natural Science Division of the Maine State Museum serves as an important regional repository for researchers from Maine and northern New England. The museum's geological collection dates from the 1830's when systematic collecting was first undertaken in the region and is especially strong in minerals from the historic pegmatite district of western Maine. The biological holdings were significantly expanded in 2004 with the incorporation of the University of Maine Department of Ecology's comprehensive statewide and regional collections of birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and vascular plants. Other important recent acquisitions include the 2006 transfer of the Maine Geological Survey collections.

The Maine State Museum also has an extensive array of exhibits, some of which are temporary and others of which are more permanent fixtures.

The Maine State Museum is located in the Maine State Cultural Building, constructed in 1971, which is across from the State House. The building also is home to the Maine State Archives and the Maine State Library.

Monday: closed
Tuesday-Friday: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Sunday: closed