The Narrow Gauge Railroad train ride takes guests on a 35- to 40-minute adventure in an antique 1846 railcar scooting along the restored 2-foot track. From the plush, velvety seats, visitors can peer at the abundance of sights, such as the 1875 Portland breakwater lighthouse and the elusive Frankenmoose, while listening to factual orations by the conductor or guest docent. After ingesting the panoramic Casco Bay from the tassel-framed glass windows, riders can peruse the past in the museum, which collects informative displays, historic railcars and interactive conductors.
Founded in 1822, the Maine Historical Society is the third oldest state historical society in the nation, and curates museums, programs, and events to celebrate the state's long history. The MHS Museum features a collection of more than 15,000 artifacts, including pieces of Native American archaeological material, political memorabilia, and pictures of the first governor with his head caught in a lobster trap. The society's 1-acre campus is also home to the the Wadsworth-Longfellow House, the childhood home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the poet best known for penning "Paul Revere's Ride" and The Song of Hiawatha. Membership to the society includes invitations to exhibit openings, member parties, lectures, trips, access to the Brown Research library, a subscription to the Maine History Journal, and a 10% discount at the museum store, web store, and all vintage Maine image purchases.
Since Portland Museum of Art opened in 1882, its collection has blossomed to include more than 17,000 pieces of art from the 18th century to the present day. Amid works of sculpture, ceramics, and furniture, the museum sports paintings by European luminaries, such as Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso. At its core, however, are works by Maine artists.
Roughly 10 changing exhibitions round out the museum’s displays, which are spread throughout three buildings: the L.D.M. Sweat Memorial Galleries, the Charles Shipman Payson Building, and the 1801-built McMellan House. Besides artwork, these spaces house the museum’s events, which range from lectures to film screenings.
When most people think of Italian villas, elaborate textiles, and Turkish smoking rooms, they don't picture them in the United States. But they used to be. The Victoria Mansion showcases the grandeur of art, design, and architecture before the Civil War. Based in the 19th-century Morse-Libby house, the museum is now open to the public, although it was once in peril of being ripped down and turned into a gas station in 1940.
Visitors can tour the house to see rooms dripping with stained glass, gilded mirrors, and satin textiles. From the very large—chestnut paneled walls—to the very small—a silver salt cellar by Tiffany & Co.—the home displays the most opulent architecture and decor of the age. In addition to guided tours, the museum sponsors public lectures, discussion groups, and scholarly symposiums on 19th-century topics, like the mansion's artwork.
The logo for the International Cryptozoology Museum is a coelacanth, one of the science's great success stories. Believed to have gone extinct 65 million years ago, a specimen of the armored fish was caught off the coast of South Africa in 1938 and identified by museum curator Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer despite its false mustache. In the optimistic spirit of that amazing discovery, the International Cryptozoology Museum displays exhibits profiling such mysterious creatures as Sasquatch, the Loch Ness Monster, and the Jersey Devil, along with lesser known beasties such as the Dover Demon, the Montauk Monster, and the Fiji Mermaid.
Roughly 100 billion stars twinkle in our galaxy, and upward of 400 billion galaxies exist in the universe. For more than 40 years, Southworth Planetarium has kept an eye on them from its University of Southern Maine home. Visitors to the facility can explore exhibits and attend lectures to learn about planets such as Venus, which rains down sulfuric acid, and Saturn, which is fed up with Venus's negative attitude. The planetarium also hosts impressive omni-dome shows with picturesque space narratives and laser lights set to music.