Learn About Maine's History
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Type of Attraction: Museum
Reviewer: Rose McLaughlin
Date of Visit: December 1st, 2012
It was a snowy Saturday when my sister and I made our way up to Augusta, Maine to go to the Maine State Museum. The museum was very easy to find, since there are many signs in Augusta leading you there. After we made our way around the rotaries in Augusta, we finally came to the museum. The museum is located in the Maine State House complex inside the Cultural Building. The Maine State Museum shares a building with two other institutions: The Maine State Library and Maine State Archives. We drove into the parking lot and were confused about where to park but we eventually found the visitors parking lot, which was towards the back
We entered the museum through a large lobby and purchased our tickets from the clerk. The front desk is actually inside one of the floor exhibits and right across from their gift shop. The museum was very quiet and there were very few people there that day. I was surprised at how low cost the tickets were. My ticket cost $2 and my sisters $1. The admission fees are $2 for adults, $1 for children ages 6 through 18, and children under 6 get in for free. For a family the cost is $6, maximum, and for senior citizens (aged 62 and older) the cost is $1. For a special tour or program the fee is $5, and school groups pay no admission costs. The museum also only accepts cash or checks for admission tickets. As far as hours the museum is open Tuesday through Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm, Saturdays 10:00am through 4:00pm, Sundays (from June 24th to November 25th) 1:00pm to 4:00pm. The museum is also closed on all Mondays and all state holidays. The museum does a lot of tours for schools, mostly in the elementary grades.
The museum consists of four floors consisting of the following exhibits: At Home in Maine, To the Highest Standard, Popham Colony: Maine's First English Settlement, Back to Nature, Maine Gems, Cabinet of Curiosities, Maine Bounty: The People and Resources that shaped Maine, Made in Maine, Struggle for Identity, 12,000 Years in Maine, Tourmaline and the Rich Legacy of Mining at Mount Mica, and the new Malaga Island: Fragmented Lives.
It actually took around 120 years before the museum that is here today to be created
The first exhibit we entered was Maine Bounty: The People and Resources that shaped Maine. The Maine Bounty collection consists of the tools and equipment Maine people used for the resource-based industries they relied on. The exhibit included a replica of the Lion Locomotive to represent the railroad industry Maine once had
After Maine Bounty we looked at the Tourmaline and the Rich Legacy of Mining at Mount Mica exhibit. This exhibit was smaller but had a nice display of Maine gems. The next exhibit we entered was Back to Nature. This exhibits shows the four seasons in Maine as well as the different natural environments in Maine. Also in this exhibit animals and plants are displayed. Black Bears, River Otter, Bald Eagle, Woodchuck, Red-tailed Hawk, Brook Trout, Moose, Deer, and many other species. My favorite part of the Back to Nature exhibit was the luck chair.
The next exhibit we entered was Made in Maine which displays the many different products Mainers have produced in the past. The product making scenes this exhibit featured were sewing clothes, carding wool, spinning woolen yarn, transferring water power, making patent rifles, working iron, making shoes, and weaving woolen cloth. The exhibit also displays a very impressive three-story water powered woodworking mill. I’m actually not sure what the next exhibit we entered was called but this exhibit displayed a few of the modes of transportation Maine people have used in the past.
We then entered the “To the Highest Standard: exhibit which featured original and historically important flags. The next exhibit we came upon was Struggle for Identity. This exhibit had a very impressive display of Native American artifacts and many displays of Native American culture. The smaller exhibits titled Popham Colony: Maine’s First English Settlement and 12,000 years in Maine were also featured in the Struggle for Identity exhibit. The Popham Colony display features many artifacts from the colony and the 12,000 years in Maine displays a replica of a meat stone cache.
We then made our way upstairs to check out the At Home in Maine displays. This exhibit is newer, constructed in 2008, and is the largest in the museum
The last exhibit we saw was Malaga Island: Fragmented Lives. This exhibit was really more of a tribute to the people who were forced to move off the island. There were a few artifacts that were found on the island, they are still even finding artifacts and personal possessions today, and there was a lot of information about peoples lives on Malaga Island and information about how and why they were forced off the island. I actually hadn’t remember much from what I learned about Malaga Island, since it had been since elementary school, so it was nice to be able to see that exhibit.
On our way out of the museum we stopped into the gift shop
For school groups or field trips the admission fees differ. For students in pre-school through 12th grade there is no admission charge. Also, for education programs for student pre-school through 12th grade there is no charge either. For adults in groups the charge is $1.25, for senior citizens in groups $1, and for programs for adults and non-school groups the fee is $5 each.
When leaving the museum we had planned on going to somewhere to eat but because it had been snowing that day and my car wasn’t doing very well on the roads we decided to head home instead. The closet places to the museum for eating would the Cross Café, a cafeteria in the Cross Office Building, behind the State House. The café is open from 8:00am to 3:30pm Monday through Friday.