Maine Historical Society



Upcoming Programs & Events

Events on this page: February | Ongoing Programs | Podcasts | Group Trips | Exhibitions | Online Exhibitions | Regional Genealogy Events

Program fees and registration details are listed in the program description. Programs for MHS members are free or discounted. Support MHS by becoming a member today. All programs take place at our facilities at 489 Congress Street in Portland, unless otherwise noted. Click here for Directions or Parking information.

Please review our Refund and Return Policies for tickets and event admissions.

If you have questions about any of the programs listed below, please contact us at (207) 774-1822.

Sign up for e-Connection to receive a dose of history and news from MHS to your inbox.

Ongoing Programs

Wadsworth-Longfellow House Tours - Daily, May - October. See details.

Exhibition Galleries (self-guided) - Changing schedule, year-round. See details.

Historical Walking Tours of Portland - June - October 10, 2019. Tours offered Monday through Friday at 1:30pm, and on select special weekend dates. See details.

February Programs

Saturday, February 1, 1:00 pm

Restoring Your Historic House: The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners - Book Launch!

Restoring Your Historic House: The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners - Book Launch!

with Scott T. Hanson (author) and David J. Clough (photographer)
Is your house historic? Do you want to preserve what makes it unique while keeping it a comfortable place to live? MHS loves old houses and as the caretakers for the oldest building on the Portland peninsula – the Wadsworth-Longfellow House - we know a thing or two about and appreciate the work that goes into caring for a historic home! Join us for the book launch of Restoring Your Historical House: The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners with author Scott T. Hanson. Beyond the typical DIY text for homeowners, this book explains in expert detail how to adapt your DIY skills to the specialized needs of a historic house, prioritizing the identification and preservation of the significant, character-defining features of an antique home. Learn about the best practices for updating historic homes for modern life in ways that won’t break the bank or sacrifice the history of your habitat!

Scott T. Hanson is a Maine based architectural historian, preservation consultant, and historic-building preservation professional who has 40 years’ experience rehabilitating historic houses. He grew up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, before settling on the Maine coast. He is the author of Homes Down East: Classic Maine Coastal Cottages and Towns and the co-author of "The Architecture of Cushing's Island," written with Maine State Historian, Earle G. Shettleworth. He has appeared, along with Whitten House, on the television program "If Walls Could Talk" on HGTV.

The book will be available for purchase in the Museum Store.
Storm Date: Feb 8, same time and place!

Cost: Free and open to the public.
Location: Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress Street, Portland

Tuesday, February 11, 6:00 – 7:00 pm

A Talk by Scott Andrews
Inventing Vacationland

Inventing Vacationland

Since 1916, Maine has officially advertised itself as “Vacationland.” Before then, it was touted as “The Nation’s Playground” and “Sportsmen’s Paradise.” Today the business of tourism and recreation plays host to more than 36 million visitors who spend more than $6 billion each year, by far Maine’s biggest industry.

Maine has been a preeminent destination for rusticators, tourists, vacationers and recreational and arts enthusiasts of all stripes and all seasons for nearly two centuries. How did Maine become a vacation mecca? That’s the subject of Inventing Vacationland, a talk by Scott Andrews, a journalist and teacher with a lifetime connection to various facets of Maine’s vacation and tourism industry.

About the speaker: Scott Andrews earned a B.A. in history from the University of Chicago, an M.B.A. from the Chicago Booth School of Business and an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics. He has been involved in the Maine tourism industry since his teenage years, when he worked at his family’s campground in Oxford County. A longtime journalist, Andrews has written hundreds of articles on recreation, the arts and history of tourism for a variety of local and national publications.

Cost: Free and open to the public
Location: Maine Historical Society, Lecture Hall, 489 Congress Street, Portland

STORM DATE: FEBRUARY 12. In the event MHS is closed due to a storm, this program will be held next day, FEB 12, same time/location. For storm cancellations, follow your local news or call MHS at 207-774-1822.

Thursday, February 13, 4:00 – 6:30 pm

1822 Leadership Circle Curator’s Tour
Rufus Porter’s Curious World: Art and Invention in America, 1815-1860

Francis Howe House Mural, 1838, by Rufus Porter and Stephen Twombly Porter

Francis Howe House Mural, 1838, by Rufus Porter and Stephen Twombly Porter

Join MHS trustee and exhibition co-curator Laura F. Sprague for a special tour of Bowdoin College Museum of Art’s new exhibit about the artist, author, and inventor Rufus Porter. Described by Time magazine as a “Yankee da Vinci,” Porter pioneered initiatives in art, publishing, and inventions, especially mechanized flight, beginning in 1834. Born in Massachusetts, Porter was raised in Maine and his career took shape in Portland. A peripatetic man, he eventually relocated to New York, where in 1845, he founded Scientific American, the oldest continuously published monthly magazine in the U.S.

Location: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine
Time: Tour 4 - 5:30 pm & Reception 5:30 - 6:30 pm

By invitation for members of MHS's 1822 Leadership Circle and guests.

RSVP by February 10, 2020 to Christina Traister, Director of Institutional Advancement, at or 207-774-1822 ext. 231.

Thursday, February 27, 6:00 – 7:00 pm

Talk with Gemma Cannon, author of Voices of the Night
Love, Loss, and Longfellow: The Love Story that Launched the Poet

Mary Potter

Mary Potter

Most Henry Wadsworth Longfellow fans are familiar with the romantic and tragic story of Henry’s second wife Francis Appleton. But did you know that long before he met Fanny, Henry was married to Mary Storer Potter of Portland? Though not well remembered today, Mary was described in her lifetime as “a lovely woman in character…gentle, refined, and graceful, with an attractive manner that won all hearts.” She was a close friend of Henry’s sister, Anne.

What is Mary’s story? How did she and Henry meet and fall in love? Join author Gemma Cannon on the poet’s 212th birthday to learn this little-known history of the young Henry and his radiant first bride Mary -- and how their tale of love and loss led to his universal fame and his powerful works that we celebrate today.

Gemma Cannon has led hundreds of tours through the Wadsworth-Longfellow House. Her award-winning book, Voices of the Night, recounts Longfellow’s love story with Mary Potter, and his subsequent consolation poetry that has helped to transform grief for generations of readers worldwide. FMI visit her website

Location: Maine Historical Society Shettleworth Lecture Hall, 489 Congress Street, Portland
Cost: Free and open to the public.

Image: Mary Storer Potter Longfellow, ca. 1831, collections of Maine Historical Society, MMN #4115.

STORM DATE: FEBRUARY 28. In the event MHS is closed due to a storm, this program will be held next day, FEBRUARY 28, same time/location. For storm cancellations, follow your local news or call MHS at 207-774-1822.

Program Podcasts

Subscribe now:

Or, copy and paste this URL into a podcasting tool:

Group Trips

Captivating Croatia
October 2-15, 2020. From $5,199 per person

Maine Historical Society is pleased to announce its 2020 trip—Captivating Croatia! We will begin in Zagreb for 13 adventure-filled days and experience the land of a thousand islands. Located on the east bank of the Adriatic Sea across from Italy, many say that a trip to Croatia is to experience "the Mediterranean as it once was." Get Trip Details.


Holding Up the Sky exhibit graphic

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

MHS Gallery, 489 Congress Street, Portland

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.


My Island Home: Recollections of Verlie Colby Greenleaf of Westport Island
November 8, 2019 through April 25, 2020

Showcase Gallery at Maine Historical Society

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. Her words frame the exhibition, providing a first-person account of her life. Read More


UPCOMING: 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


Online Exhibitions

Maine Memory Network homepage

Maine Memory Network - Over 300 Online Exhibitions

Offers online access to numerous Web–based exhibits and a constantly growing collection of over 46,000 historical documents, images, and objects contributed by as many as 270 organizations around Maine. New exhibits added regularly. Go to


Regional Genealogy Programs, Events, and Conferences

Find out about regional conferences and other family history instruction and workshops.