Maine Historical Society

MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY

PRESERVING HISTORY
ENGAGING MINDS
CONNECTING MAINE

Exhibitions & Museum

On this page:   Current Exhibitions  | Upcoming Exhibits  | Collections  | Research  | Donating Historical Items

The MHS Museum features changing exhibitions and programs spanning more 12 centuries of Maine life. Drawing from the extensive collections of the Maine Historical Society, original exhibits feature art, artifacts, stories, and documents that vividly bring Maine history to life.

Below you will find information about our current exhibitions, but many of our past exhibitions live on in our Past Exhibits section. We hope you can visit our museum in person. Members receive free admission.

All exhibitions are located at 489 Congress Street in Portland unless otherwise noted.

Maine Historical Society is one of more than 2,000 museums across America offering free admission to military personnel and their families in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and the Department of Defense. We are proud to be a Blue Star Museum.

Current Exhibitions

Explore Past Exhibits.

Holding Up the Sky: Wabanaki People, Culture, History & Art
April 12, 2019 through February 1, 2020

MHS Gallery

Explore Wabanaki philosophies of leadership and obligation relating to humans and non-humans over 13,000 years in what is now known as Maine. Wabanaki voices contextualize present-day relevance of 400 years of shared histories between Wabanaki people and immigrants to their region through 17th century colonial treaties, photographs, and contemporary artworks—everything from ash baskets to haute couture fashion. Read More

 

Rudy Vallee and Fay Webb, ca. 1932

Icons & Influencers: Celebrity Photographs from the Evening Express, 1920-1935
August 30, 2019 through January 31, 2020

Maine Historical Society Shettleworth Gallery

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. This exhibition features examples of celebrity photographs from the Evening Express, between 1920 and 1935. Read more.

 

Recreating Hygge: Scandinavians in the Pine Tree State
July 25 through November 2, 2019

Showcase Gallery at Maine Historical Society

MHS' pop-up exhibition, "Recreating Hygee" highlights specific examples of how Danish, Norwegian and Swedish families created comfortable homes and content lives, or "hygge" in Maine. Scandinavian-American communities flourished in Maine during the 19th and early 20th centuries, a period of increased immigration to the United States from Europe. Read More

Upcoming Exhibitions

State of Mind: Becoming Maine
March 13, 2020-January 30, 2021

Maine Historical Society

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. Read More

Collections

Museum Collections

The Museum's diverse collection of over 15,000 artifacts includes paintings, prints, and other original works of art, clothing and textiles, decorative arts, Native American artifacts and archaeological material, toys, tools, glass and ceramics, political memorabilia, militaria, and industrial and domestic artifacts that illustrate life in Maine.

Search the collections database to see our museum objects, photographs, autograph letters, some architectural drawings, and newspapers. This is a work in progress; please contact MHS collections staff at collections@mainehistory.org for the most complete and accurate research.

Research

Museum Collections

Research access to the museum collections is available by appointment.

Contact the Collections Manager at (207) 774–1822 x210 or collections@mainehistory.org for more information.

Donating Historical Items

If you are considering donating historic material to the Maine Historical Society museum or library, please read our donation guidelines, and review the MHS Collections Management Policy.