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Maine Historical Society

General Description

Because an understanding of the past is vital to a healthy and progressive society, Maine Historical Society collects and exhibits historical treasures, facilitates historical research, and provides programs that make history meaningful, accessible and enjoyable.

Founded in 1822, Maine Historical Society is the third oldest state historical society in the U.S. MHS is located in the heart of Portland’s downtown cultural district. We are organized into four major program areas:
• the MHS Galleries, Wadsworth-Longfellow House and Garden
• the Brown Research Library
• the Maine Memory Network ( our statewide digital museum
• innovative Education programs for children and adults

Centennial Plans

Designing Acadia, May through December 2016

Designing Acadia, an exhibition at Maine Historical Society in Portland, will explore the concept, design, and layout of Acadia National Park. The exhibition will provide an opportunity for audiences in Portland and Southern Maine to encounter Acadia National Park and its legacy on the centennial of the Park’s founding in 1916.

Exhibition Focus and Activities
The outdoors are an essential part of Maine’s history and identity, and Acadia National Park has had a special presence in the imagination of both Mainers and visitors from around the world. The creation of the Park puts Maine at the center of key national stories: the conservation movement, the development of the national park system, and ideas about recreation, philanthropy, and politics that shaped the 20th century.

MHS’s exhibition will focus on the physical design and layout of the park. When ANP was created, it was on land that had been used for centuries by Native Americans, local farmers and fisherman, and, more recently, wealthy rusticators. The purposeful design of the park sought to create vistas, sight lines, and diverse opportunities for visitors to experience Mt. Desert Island’s special and varied landscape.

The exhibition will be accompanied by public programs, educational activities, and outreach from May-December 2016. Charles Birnbaum, President of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, will deliver MHS’s Annual Olmsted address. MHS will seek participation from partners around Maine in related activities.

MHS has collaborated extensively with historical organizations on Mt. Desert Island and is eager to build on those relationships. We look forward to providing a Portland venue for Acadia Centennial Partner activities, and to supporting commemorative activities on the Island.


489 Congress Street
Portland, Maine 04101
207 774-1822


Designing Acadia

Thursday June 16, 2016 - Saturday January 14, 2017

Maine Historical Society Book Group

Wednesday October 05, 2016 - Wednesday March 01, 2017

Curator Tour: Designing Acadia

Wednesday October 12, 2016