Maine Historical Society



A Past Exhibit

Creative Maine: Trade Banners and the Crafts That Built Maine

June 22, 2017 through January 10, 2018
MHS Gallery

exhibit graphic

Creative Maine explored the creativity and ingenuity that created the Maine economy as we know it today through the historical parade banners of the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association and examples from some of the most innovative businesses in Maine today. In 1841, MCMA members marched through the streets of downtown Portland to demonstrate their skills and support for their individual trades, as well as for craftspeople struggling to earn a supporting wage in the changing economy. Creative Maine shared the stories of past individuals who led the MCMA, who were skilled in their crafts, and who created successful industries for Maine. Each MCMA trade banner—exquisitely preserved and ready for display—was shown in the exhibition alongside the story of a craftsperson in that specific trade. Also displayed were modern-day examples of those same trades.

As importantly, this exhibition celebrated Maine's cultural community. In August 2010, 16 Maine museums, historical organizations, and their supporters came together in an unprecedented collaboration to save this important collection of Maine artifacts when they went on auction and were at risk of being sold, split up, and leaving Maine. The effort was led by Maine Historical Society and included Portland Museum of Art, Maine State Museum, Maine Maritime Museum, Bates College Museum of Art, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, and Colby College Museum of Art. Individuals, foundations, and corporate donors, including L.L. Bean and the Libra Foundation were also critical to this effort.

We are grateful for the support of the Davis Family Foundation, the BHA Foundation Fund, the Maine Humanities Council, and the P.W. Sprague Memorial Foundation in making this exhibition possible.