Stories of Maine

20 stories speak to Maine's past and the people who shaped the communities we know today

Frederic Edwin Church (1826–1900), Mount Katahdin from Millinocket Camp, 1895, oil on canvas, 26½ x 42¼. Gift of Owen W. and Anna H. Wells in memory of Elizabeth B. Noyce, Osher Map Library.
Antonio Jacobsen (1850–1921), The Portland, 1891, oil on canvas, 24½ x 38". Gift of Walter B. and Marcia F. Goldfarb. Image courtesy Luc Demers.

As Maine celebrates its 200th birthday, organizations across the state are honoring Maine’s history, the people who helped shape it, and those who are creating our communities today. The Portland Museum of Art has teamed up with the Maine Humanities Council to present Stories of Maine: An Incomplete History, an exhibition featuring 20 stories from across the state that explore Maine’s history from long before 1820 to the present day.

The featured stories include a 1906 Old Town canoe that explores the importance of Maine’s rivers and native industries, an oil lamp from the Monhegan lighthouse that highlights the history of maritime navigation, and objects from the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Museum and Library that touch on the history of the state’s religious diversity. But the exhibition will focus on some difficult aspects of Maine’s history, too, including the suppression of Native American voting rights until the 1960s.

For 19 of the stories, individuals from across the state will speak to the way each object is pertinent to modern-day life. “For example, state economist Amanda Rector writes about the diver-sity of Maine’s labor force alongside the display of nineteenth-century trade banners that detail the range of skilled laborers working in Portland,” states a press release from the museum. The 20th voice of the exhibition belongs to its visitors: “The Workshop,” on the lower ground floor of the museum, has been transformed into a recording studio and listening lounge so that visitors may share their own stories of Maine. As the PMA states, “We hope that this platform will invite a sense that Stories of Maine: An Incomplete History is a collective endeavor where all voices are valued.”