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History and Heritage Museums

Maine has thousands of years of history and, unsurprisingly, many excellent museums and historical homes to explain and celebrate it.

Major historical exhibits can be found at the Maine Historical Society in Portland, with the Wadsworth-Longfellow House and Garden and Museum Galleries and Shop.

Information on Maine’s interwoven cultures is found throughout the state. Native American history is celebrated at the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor. The Acadian Village explains the culture of the Acadians, the French people of Nova Scotia exiled in the 18th century to northern Maine and beyond. Tour the village’s 17 buildings overlooking the St. John River that harken to a different time, showcasing both replicas and original structures moved on-site. The Maine Jewish Museum in Portland is built within a turn-of-the-century synagogue. The museum is a venue for contemporary art exhibitions featuring established, Jewish-connected, and Maine-connected artists that rotate every eight weeks.

Interested in Colonial life and architecture? The Lincoln County Historical Association Museums and the Museums of Old York in York offer you the chance to see some of the homes and civic buildings of Maine’s earliest European settlers.

Maine hosts a number of house museums and restored historic homes, some of them large and stately like Victoria Mansion in Portland and the Woodlawn Museum in Ellsworth so visitors can see what life was like for some families. Others celebrate the lives of specific Mainers, such as the homes of author Sarah Orne Jewett in South Berwick and Civil War hero Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain in Brunswick. All these historic homes have been lovingly maintained, offering a glimpse into some of Maine’s past.

If you’d like to relive history as well as learn from it, visit Washburn-Norlands Living History Center in Livermore. The 445-acre center recreates life on a 19th-century New England farm.

The Maine Maritime Museum in Bath has the only intact historic shipyard in the country. Wonderful for the whole family, you can experience Maine’s seafaring history with interactive exhibits, collections, and much more on the 20-acre property.

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