Maine 200: Commemorating Maine Statehood, 1820-2020

Maine's Bicentennial Activities Maine's Bicentennial Activities

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.

Bicentennial Programs, Events, and Experiences

Maine at 200 graphic

MHS has relaunched our Bicentennial public programming with MAINE at 200, an exciting new virtual (Zoom) series! In live conversations, notable presenters explore how Maine became a State in 1820, what that has meant to Maine people, and how 13,000 years of history has shaped the complex issues that matter to Mainers today. Visit the Programs and Events page often for "Maine at 200 series" program updates. Register early! Most programs in the series are free and open to the public (unless noted as MHS Members Exclusive.)

See MHS Programs & Events.

Exhibitions @ Maine Historical Society

State of Mind logo

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

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.

See MHS Exhibition hours and directions.

Holding up the Sky exhibit logo

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

Holding Up the Sky kicked 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 explored 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. View Online Exhibition.

Maine Memory Network

MHS is expanding 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 more than 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, and 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.
  • Newly redesigned and expanded Maine History, a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal published in partnership with the Department of History at the University of Maine, Orono. Relaunched in October 2019. Become a member today for online access to the latest issue and back issues of Maine History.
  • MHS will publish Thomas Urquhart's Up For Grabs: A 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

We are excited to partner with, the Maine Department of Education, and Jane's Trust in developing and sharing bicentennial-related lesson plans, and we invite you to share your own! This website supports Maine educators of all grade levels in sharing ideas and best practices for creating engaging and effective lessons to commemorate Maine's Bicentennial.