Maine Historical Society



A Past Exhibit

Left Undone: Unfinished Work from the Collection

Exhibition on view November 4, 2016 through January 7, 2017
Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr. Lecture Hall

exhibit graphic

Some historical objects leave us with more questions than answers. Everyone has some creative project they began but never finished. The Maine Historical Society collection contains examples of such work left undone. But why were these projects never finished? Did the maker lose interest? Lack talent or concentration? Fall ill—or even die? Why were these items saved? And finally, why were they given to MHS—and why did we add such imperfect objects into our collection?

Making things can be a struggle and sometimes a frustration. The incompleteness of these objects reminds us that physical labor and real human effort is part of any creative activity, and the interrupted process can reveal a lot about how these items were envisioned and made.

The reason why these objects are incomplete is not known. In this exhibit, the public was invited to share in the curatorial process by adding their own guesses about why the objects were left undone, and wrote labels for them.