Maine @ 200: Commemorating Maine Statehood, 1820-2020

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Maine Historical Society Bicentennial Activities

The Maine Historical Society (MHS) is excited to offer the following exhibits, programs, and activities as part of Maine's Bicentennial commemoration. MHS is also represented on and working closely with the Maine Bicentennial Commission to support its activities.

Exhibitions @ Maine Historical Society

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

Holding up the Sky will kick off MHS's activities commemorating the Bicentennial. The continuing 13,000 year story of the first people of Maine, the Wabanaki, and our shared history provide critical context for understanding Maine statehood. Holding up the Sky explores Wabanaki philosophies of leadership and obligation relating to humans and non-humans. Wabanaki advisors guided the exhibition, interpreting 17th century colonial treaties, photographs, heritage items, and contemporary artworks—everything from ash baskets to haute couture fashion. Wabanaki voices provide context for the present-day relevance and repercussions of 400 years of shared histories between Wabanaki people and immigrants to their region. More information.

March 5, 2020 – January 30, 2021
State of Mind: unexpected histories of Maine's bicentennial

Continuing MHS's commemoration of the Bicentennial, State of Mind will explore how Maine became a state and why that matters. Mainers in 1820 were a lot like Mainers are today: deeply divided about the future and how to get there based on their circumstances, geography, and sense of opportunity. State of Mind will explore: the settlement and distribution of Maine land; Maine's participation in the Revolution and War of 1812 and how that propelled the case for statehood; Maine's relationship to and desire to separate from Massachusetts; the Missouri Compromise and fundamental relationship between Maine statehood and the development of the United States; and how statehood set up Maine's most vibrant period of growth and development.

Most importantly, State of Mind will explore why this matters to Mainers today: the issues, political arguments, and perspectives that were debated during the path to statehood are remarkably similar to today's political and cultural dialog.

  • Which opportunities will drive Maine's vitality going forward and who will benefit?
  • What are our individual and collective priorities for Maine?
  • What is our vision for Maine's future?
  • What makes Maine "Maine"?

State of Mind will share this story through objects, maps, and archival materials from MHS and partner collections; by featuring the stories and perspectives of Maine communities from 1820 and today; and through the voices of Maine people and stakeholders from across the state.

Maine Memory Network

MHS will expand its outreach efforts to capture, share, and permanently archive stories from across Maine—all Maine communities will be encouraged to share collections, online exhibits, and oral histories that illustrate their unique contributions to Maine's history, vitality, and identity. MHS provides training, support, and infrastructure to its ever-growing network of 270 local contributing partners. Learn how you can participate.

A Community Guide to Commemorating Maine's Bicentennial

Developed and distributed through Maine Memory, the Community Guide provides ideas and resources that will help Maine communities plan local participation and celebrations. Download the Community Guide.

Research, Scholarship, & Publication

MHS will continue working closely with partners in the research community to promote and share scholarship in Maine history that is relevant, accessible, and useful to better understanding Maine today. This will include:

  • Fellowships, historian's forums, conferences, and digital and print publications that stimulate and support researchers, scholars, students, and others interested in Maine history.
  • Redesign and expansion of the scope of the journal Maine History which MHS publishes in partnership with the History Department at the University of Maine, Orono. Relaunch: July 2019.
  • MHS will publish Thomas Urquhart's history of Maine's public lands movement which explores land use in Maine from 1820 to the present (in partnership with Down East), and Dr. Jeremiah Barker's (1752-1835) history of medicine in Maine leading up to and at the time of statehood, carefully transcribed by medical historian Dr. Ritchie Kahn (published in partnership with Oxford University Press).

Comprehensive K-16 curriculum and outreach support

Our new curriculum will use history to help Maine students develop skills, experience, and knowledge about Maine. Hosted on Maine Memory, these resources will be free to all teachers/students, with implementation support provided to teachers. Launch: September 2019

Bicentennial programs, events, and experiences

Maine Historical Society will offer public programs and events that explore the path to Maine statehood and wide-ranging topics in Maine history, foster connections, stimulate dialog, and promote development of strategies for Maine's future. October 2019-December 2020.

Forever Maine: The Mobile Maine History Experience

MHS is currently seeking funds to develop Forever Maine: The Mobile Maine History Experience, an innovative, immersive, statewide educational experience designed to give all Maine people, regardless of geography, the chance to participate in the Bicentennial and explore how history shapes Maine today. Working in partnership with TideSmart Global, Forever Maine will be a state-of-the-art mobile history museum experience delivered via a bus that travels to fairs, festivals, schools, and communities throughout the state. It will feature: an exhibit that orients visitors to Maine history through the stories of Maine people and communities; an introductory film; a Virtual Reality experience that enables visitors to step into and experience Maine history; and the Maine Story Booth that encourages all to share their Maine stories. Stay tuned for updates.