Maine Historical Society opens exhibit "In a Whole New Light"
October 29, 2012
"In a Whole New Light," on display in the Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr. Lecture Hall, opens Friday, November 2, at the Maine Historical Society. The “wiring” of Maine – the generation of electric power, development of the electric grid, and consumption of power domestically and industrially – changed countless aspects of life. Electric power affected the cultural lives and experiences of Mainers celebrating the winter holidays. Traditionally, this season included decorations of greens and other natural materials. With the advent of electricity, communities began to celebrate the holidays in a whole new light.
The images displayed are a survey of the holiday culture in towns from Portland to Presque Isle over a sixty-year span of the 20th century. Electricity transformed the streetscapes: utility poles lined the roads; transportation ran on electrified rails; retail signage began to glow; and stores and offices could be lit into the night. Eventually, lights were used for decoration, adorning homes and attracting holiday shoppers to stores after dark.
Though many of the locations pictured are long gone or greatly altered, the spirit of public demonstrations of holiday cheer remains.
The exhibit "Wired! How Electricity Came to Maine" is on display in the museum. This exhibit draws largely from the Central Maine Power collection at MHS, and introduces the rich and fascinating history of electrification in Maine. In addition to telling many wonderful stories, the exhibit provides context for critical contemporary issues, including the politics and economics of sustainable energy. It also features the largest object ever displayed in our museum: a four-ton turbine once used in Dennistown to generate electricity. "Wired!" is on display through May 2013.
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The Maine Historical Society promotes the understanding and enjoyment of Maine history.