Maine Historical Society



Current Exhibitions

Partner Place National Trust for Historic Preservation

Admission to gallery: Free for MHS members. Non-members: Adults - $10; Children (age 6-17) $5; age 5 and under, Free.

All exhibitions are located at 489 Congress Street in Portland unless otherwise noted.
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State of Mind: Becoming Maine

March 13, 2020 through January 30, 2021
Maine Historical Society

The history of the region now known as Maine did not begin at statehood in 1820. What was Maine before it was a state? How did Maine separate from Massachusetts? How has the Maine we experience today been shaped by thousands of years of history?

State of Mind: Becoming Maine will analyze Maine as the homeland of the Wabanaki people, as a European province, as part of the District of Massachusetts, and the State of Maine. We will consider Maine's Bicentennial milestone in relation to: Maine's formation as a state 200 years ago; the significance of the Missouri Compromise; how the idea of "Maine" is perceived by people today; and how the changing landscape could alter Maine's future. The exhibition will feature manuscripts and items relating to statehood, historic maps, contemporary artwork, and opportunities to learn about the experiences of Wabanaki people alongside the early settlers, including: European American, African American, and Acadian communities.

Visit the online exhibit of State of Mind

Icons & Influencers: Celebrity Photographs from the Evening Express, 1920-1935

August 30, 2019 through June 2020
Maine Historical Society Shettleworth Gallery

Rudy Vallee and Fay Webb, ca. 1932

America's obsession with celebrity is nothing new. While photo journalism began during the American Civil War, newspapers seldom used photography to illustrate or enhance stories until nearly seventy years later. Beginning in the 1920s, newspapers started featuring paparazzi-style candid photographs of cultural icons, including celebrities, politicians, and athletes, as a way to engage new audiences and increase sales. The Portland Evening Express was a Maine pioneer in this new publication style. Starting with Guy Gannett's ownership in 1925, the Evening Express became known for its photo features. This exhibition features examples of celebrity photographs from the Evening Express, between 1920 and 1935.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services MA-30-16-0356-16.


My Island Home: Recollections of Verlie Colby Greenleaf of Westport Island

November 8, 2019 through April 25, 2020
Showcase Gallery at Maine Historical Society

Westport Island exhibit

Verlie Greenleaf (1891-1992) bore witness to over a century of Westport Island's history. From her earliest memories, there was no ferry or bridge—only boats to carry people on and off the island. There was no electricity on Westport Island until the 1940s, thus no radios, televisions, telephones or computers. Those changes came during Verlie's 100-year life. Verlie donated photographs, personal notes, and sat for an interview in 1987, all part of the Westport Island History Committee's collection today. Her words frame the exhibition, providing a first-person account of her life.

*Westport Island History Committee is an active partner in Maine Memory Network, a collaborative network of over 270 Contributing Partners administered by Maine Historical Society. My Island Home is the first in a series of Contributing Partner rotating exhibitions in Maine Historical Society's Showcase Gallery.