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Museums in the Midcoast

Posted Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Camden/Rockland region evokes a sense of timelessness. The setting is conducive to pondering the past—and our region offers a variety of museums to put your ponderer on. Other organizations provide quick-and-easy immersion into subjects of regional interest to the whole family. Many offer discounts (such as free admission for dads on Father’s Day) and special events. Some are open seasonally; ease call or visit the appropriate website to confirm before making the trip.
The following is a list of the museums we have located in our region. 

This is by no means an exhaustive list, so please check out Maine's Office of Tourism and Maine's Midcoast (a collaborative of 7 Maine coastal Chambers of Commerce) for more Maine attractions.

American Lighthouse Foundation
This nonprofit organization is a national leader in lighthouse preservation and cares for 18 historic beacons throughout New England—nine in Maine, including Rockland Breakwater and Owls Head. Located inside the Keeper’s House at Owls Head Light Station, the Interpretive Center & Gift Shop sells official Owls Head and Rockland Breakwater Light gifts. 186 Lighthouse Rd., Owls Head. 207-594-4174; www.lighthousefoundation.org

Boothbay Railway Village
Travel back in time to vintage Vacationland. Nowhere else in New England can you ride the rails behind an authentic steam locomotive surrounded by historic Maine buildings preserved in a recreated village, and view a collection of 60 antique autos. Throughout the season, the Village Green hosts a variety of special events, from vintage ball games to car shows and family festivals. Open Memorial Day to Columbus Day, 9:30-5:00; call ahead to confirm hours and train departures. Route 27, Boothbay; 207-633-4727; www.railwayvillage.org

Coastal Children’s Museum
At this interactive museum for children ages 2-9 and their families, learning occurs through creativity and play. Programs include story hours, workshops, and more than 20 hands-on exhibits—many relating to Maine’s creatures and setting. Open year-round Wednesday through Saturday (plus Tuesdays in July and August) 10:00-4:00, Sunday 1:00-4:00. 75 Mechanic St., Rockland; 207-596-0300; www.coastalchildrensmuseum.org

Conway Homestead and Museum
Part of a six-structure living-history campus, this museum houses ship models, guns, costumes, paintings, early glass, and the reference library of the Camden-Rockport Historical Society. Wednesday through Saturday, June through September. Check the Website for hours and events. Route 1 at the Camden/Rockport line; 207-236-2257; www.conwayhouse.org

Farnsworth Art Museum and Wyeth Center
Since the days of Winslow Homer, Maine’s compelling backdrops and dramatic light have inspired painters and sculptors. Explore their work through the Farnsworth’s collection of more than 15,000 works and get a deeper understanding of the first family of American art at the Wyeth Center. Museum properties also include the Farnsworth Homestead (on the National Register of Historic Places) and the Olson House, a National Historic Landmark salt- water farm that inspired some of Andrew Wyeth’s best-known works (on Hathorne Point Rd., Cushing). Open June 1 through October, daily 10:00-5:00, Wednesdays and First Fridays until 8:00. Open spring and fall Tuesday through Sunday 10:00-5:00; winter hours Wednesday through Sunday 10:00-5:00. 16 Museum St., Rockland; 207-596-6457; www.farnsworthmuseum.org

Fawcett’s Antique Toy & Art Museum
Along with antiques and fine art, Fawcett’s offers one of the finest collections of antique toys, original comic strip and animation art, cowboy stars, Star Wars, 1930s Disneyana, toy soldiers, and more. Although well-behaved, supervised children are welcome, this is a museum enjoyed by adults. Open June through October, Thursday through Monday 10:00-4:00; October through December, weekends only 12:00-4:00. 3506 Rt. 1, Waldoboro; 207-832- 7398; fawcetoy@gwi.net

Friendship Museum
Housed in an old brick schoolhouse, the museum fea- tures models of Friendship sloops, half hulls, boat-building implements, and artifacts from Friendship’s past. At the Friendship town office, the museum’s display case changes in December and June. The town office hours are 9:00-3:00 Monday through Friday, and Tuesday evening until 7:00. The museum is open late June through Labor Day, Monday through Saturday 1:00-4:00, Sundays from 2:00-4:00. Open weekends only from Labor Day through Columbus Day. 1 Martin Point Rd. (junction of Route 220 and Martin Point Rd.), Friendship; www.friendshipmuseum.org

Knox Museum
Dedicated to General Henry Knox, George Washington’s right-hand man throughout the American Revolution and first Secretary of War in President Washington’s cabinet, the lovingly re-created Federal period mansion known as Montpelier showcases Knox family and other 18th-Century decorative
arts. Guided tours are given Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday 10:00-4:00, Saturdays 10:00-1:00 from Memorial Day thru Labor Day; Thursday and Friday 10:00-4:00 through Columbus Day. The Museum also hosts many special community events on its 13-acre campus; please see Events Calendar. The big white house at the turn to St. George, Rts. 1 and 131 in Thomaston; 207-354-8062; www.knoxmuseum.org

Maine Lighthouse Museum
The Maine Lighthouse Museum features the largest and most significant collection of lighthouse lenses and artifacts in the United States. See rare and priceless Fresnel lenses and learn about lighthouses, light keepers, the U.S. Coast Guard and more. Tours welcome. Open Memorial Day through October 31, Monday through Friday 9:00-5:00; Saturday and Sunday 10:00-4:00. Check Website for winter hours. One Park Dr., Rockland; 207-594-3301; www.MaineLighthouseMuseum.org

Matthews Museum of Maine Heritage
Discover how Maine’s early settlers lived, worked, and played. The museum also maintains regional photographic and archival collections and an early 19th-Century one-room schoolhouse. The largest public display of Moxie memorabilia honors the inventor of the beverage, Dr. Augustin Thompson. Open in June and September by appointment for groups. Open July through August, Wednesday through Saturday 12:00-4:00. During Union Fair in August, open 9:00-8:00. Union Fairgrounds (off Route 17), Union; www.matthewsmuseum.org

The Old Homestead
The Mussel Ridge Historical Society is restoring this fine example of a 1700s home. Displays of photographs, artifacts, town records, and scrapbooks relative to Owls Head and South Thomaston (Owls Head separated from South Thomaston in 1921). Open Wednesday 2:00-4:00, during July, August, and September. Ash Point Dr., Owls Head; 207-596-6879

Owls Head Transportation Museum
Celebrating the evolution of wing and wheel, Owls Head Transportation Museum displays the many methods that man has devised to get there from here. An ever-changing array of exhibits and annual special events includes the popular Annual New England Auto Auction, the annual Truck, Tractor, and Commercial Vehicle Meet, and the Vintage Motorcycle Meet. But Owls Head’s signature attraction is its Antique Aero- plane Shows, which feature in-flight demonstrations of up to a dozen collection aeroplanes. Open 10:00-5:00, year-round. 117 Museum St. (Route 73), Owls Head; 207-594-4418; www.ohtm.org

Maine Maritime Museum
Located on the Kennebec River in Bath, Maine Maritime Museum provides entertaining and engaging activities for all ages. Explore galleries and exhibits with interactive activities; tour its historic shipyard where many of the world’s greatest wooden sailing ships were built; marvel at the full-size sculpture of Wyoming, largest of them all; examine the history of lobstering; watch skilled craftsmen build wooden boats; and more. Seasonal attractions include “insiders” trolley tours and daily cruises to view area lighthouses. Open year-round, 9:30-5:00, except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. 243 Washington St., Bath; 207-443-1316; www.MaineMaritimeMuseum.org

Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum
Located in the museum is a display of memorabilia from the town of St. George and its lighthouses. Admission is free. Open every day starting Memo- rial Day weekend through Columbus Day, 1:00-5:00 (Saturday 10:00-5:00). Marshall Point Rd., off Route 131 South, Port Clyde; 207-372-6450; www.marshallpoint.org

Penobscot Marine Museum
Visit a re-creation of a 19th-Century seacoast village, tour a ship captain’s home furnished with beautiful antiques from China and Japan, watch local artisans demonstrating their crafts, and enjoy beautiful marine paintings. See E.B. White’s boat. Learn about lobster fishing. Located on Route 1 in Searsport, the museum is open Memorial Day through October, with special events and programs year-round. Check www.penobscotmarinemuseum.org for hours.

Rockland Historical Society
Located in the lower level of the Public Library, the Society houses a large collection of Civil War memorabilia and artifacts from Rockland’s lime, fishing, and shipbuilding industries. Open Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:00-5:00, or by appointment. Admission free, donations welcomed. 80 Union St., Rockland; 207-594-6193; www.rocklandlibrary.org

Sail, Power & Steam Museum
Celebrates Maine’s contribution to the development of all manner of marine transportation, with an emphasis on Rockland’s rich shipbuilding history. In addition to a repository of sailing artifacts at the permanent site, the Sail, Power & Steam Museum offers a series of off-hours and offsite “happenings.” Open Wednesday through Saturday 10:00-3:30, Sun- day 1:00-4:00. 75 Mechanic St., Rockland; 207-596- 0200; www.sailpowerandsteammuseum.org

Thomaston Historical Society
The society’s museum is housed on the second floor of the only remaining original building of the General Henry Knox estate (“Montpelier”). Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the 1794 brick structure known as the Farmhouse was at one time the Thomaston Railroad Station. The Museum covers the history of Thomaston from its exploration in 1605 and includes an exhibit about the Maine State Prison, razed in 2004. Open in the summer, Tuesday through Thursday 2:00-4:00. Free admission. 80 Knox St., Thomaston; 207-354-2295; www.thomastonhistoricalsociety.com

Project Puffin Visitor Center
In 1900, there were only a few puffins left in Maine. Discover how Audubon and its partners reintroduced them to our state. See live video of a puffin colony on an island 20 miles away. Watch puffin chicks being raised, and scientists at work. Fun and informative exhibits, educational films, gift shop, and information on boat tours to puffin islands. Open May 1 through June 1 (please call for hours); June through October 31 (daily from 10:00-5:00; in July and August, Wednesday until 7:00); November 1 through December 21 (Friday through Sunday 10:00-4:00). 311 Main St., Rockland; 877-4-PUFFIN; 207-596-5566; www.projectpuffin.org