Nearly every museum in the state has historical collections. The Maine Historical Society, local historical society museums, historic house museums, and living history sites specialize in preserving, documenting and celebrating Maine's history.
The Maine Historical Society's Center for Maine History in Portland has galleries, with exhibits and programs, as well as a genealogical library where visitors can search for ancestors from Maine. Local historical society museums also have excellent libraries, many of which serve as their community's treasure-filled attic. A peek inside or around the grounds often reveals something outstanding. Collections include military and seafaring memorabilia; handmade quilts and Native American basketry; snowshoes; carousels; and maritime art. Special exhibits give a community context within a larger world.
Some of Maine's historic house museums celebrate their former residents, such as poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, author Sarah Orne Jewett, General Joshua L. Chamberlain, or the intriguing Parson Jonathan Fischer, whose house museum in Blue Hill demonstrates his mastery of art, science and invention. Other historical houses are architectural or interior design gems: a magnificently ornamented Italianate-style mansion; a rural Federal house remarkable for its Palladian window and flying staircase; and a village Colonial home decorated with primitive wall murals.
Living history programs allow visitors to immerse themselves in a long-ago era. Taste traditional bean-hole prepared fare, take part in an authentic ice-cutting operation, listen to classical music in an 18th-century church or meetinghouse, view battle reenactments, even explore a fort by candlelight. And don't miss the focused talks, guided tours, and special presentations that personalize both a site and its history.