Posts Tagged ‘Maine museums’

Inside B.I.W’s gates

September 9, 2009

I always wanted a peek behind the gates at Bath Iron Works, and I got one on Maine Maritime Museum’s BIW trolley tour. The one-hour tours aboard a trolley bus (if you want to be comfortable, bring a cushion as a sit-upon) are narrated by former BIW emloyees, who share their experiences, insights, and pride (big emphasis on that latter term, the slogan here is Bath built is best built). File this under Must Do when visiting Maine.

Prior to boarding, we had to supply our full name, signature, and citizenship, and relinquish cell phones and cameras (you know, security issues). The trolley departs from the museum,  enters BIW  at the South Gate, then s-l-o-w-l-y zigzags through the yard, stopping at key points, such as the monstrous Ultra Hall building, where the modular Mega Units are assembled, and the gigunda, 750-foot-long dry dock (shipped from China, through typhoons and ocean storms). The individual modular sections are moved by self-propelled transporters, with upwards of 80 wheels to support their massive loads. Truly wish I could’ve snapped a few shots to bring the mammoth proportions to life.

Along the way, guide Norman J. Albert, who worked at the yard for about 40 years, shared such trivia as the reasons behind the various colors of hardhats, the stories of old-style ways launching gone awry,  how BIW’s towering  cranes flip the modular units (which are constructed upside-down, for ease and safety), and the changes in both shipbuilding and ships over the years (In 1988, BIW employed 12,250; today that’s reduced to around 5,600 worker).

Currently under construction are the  Arleigh Burke-class AEGIS guided missile destroyers, with four more slated for delivery by 2011, and the lead ship of the new Zumwalt destroyer class.

NOTE: These tours are extremely popular, and reservations are necessary at least a week ahead, if not two. And here’s a hint. I toured the museum’s grounds prior to the tour, and while all of it adds to the experience, watching the launching demonstration really helps understand the process and the changes from ways launching to dry dock launching. By the way, you can purchase sandwiches and even a lobster roll at the museum’s outdoor (seasonal) Even Keel snack bar.

New director, new exhibits herald OMAA’s new season

June 28, 2009

IMG_1088Not many museums can boast a view as stunning as the one at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, nor can many communities boast such renown as a summer art colony. Put the two together, and you get a gem: a small museum with a blockbuster collection numbering about 1,600 pieces of American art. It’s now under the direction of Ron Crusan (who, judging solely by the new website and an interview posted on it, seems to be breathing new life into the museum).

Walk into the museum, and your eyes are first drawn not to the art, but through the rear wall of glass overlooking the cliffs and crashing surf. The view alone captures why so many American icons came here to paint. In addition to the five galleries, be sure to wander the landscaped grounds and gardens, which are studded with sculptures.

The museum reopens for the season July 1 with a strong exhibit schedule.

The Works of Bernard Langlais (July 1-Aug.30), with 18 works featuring smaller versions of the artist’s fantastic animal sculptures drawn from the museum’s permanent collection, Mrs. Bernard Langlais, and Aucoicsco Galleries (Portland).

Marsden Hartley: The OMAA Legacy (July 1-Sept. 6), showcasing major works in the museum’s collection and some borrowed drawings from the Bates College Museum of Art.

The OMAA Permanent Collection: Out of the White Mountains (July 1-Oct. 31) , with 47 works spanning 100 years from artists who painted in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Painting Maine: Maurice Freedman (Sept. 5-Oct. 31), an American modernist who painted in Maine as well as Europe, New York, and Provincetown. Works presented courtesy of Greenhut Galleries (Portland) and private collections.

Beverly Hallam: A Celebration (Sept. 14-Oct. 3), honoring Hallam for her innovations in the art world, including her experimentation with alternative materials and the early use of acrylic paints.

Be sure to check the schedule for Tuesday Nights at the Museum, a series of lectures and concerts usually (but not always) held on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. And if you’re in a generous mood, mark your calendar for the annual “Almost Labor Day Auction,” Sept. 5, a social season must and the museum’s major fund raiser.


August 4, 2008

Are you trying to control costs this summer yet yearning for a vacation? Consider a staycation–the trendy term for vacationing at home and doing all the things you tell visiting friends and relatives to do. Millions of folks travel to Maine ever summer because there’s so much here, yet few of us play in our backyards.

Let’s start with the freebies. Here are a few ideas to get your brain cooking:

• Preserves and sanctuaries are tucked in all corners of the state. Search for Maine Audubon and Nature Conservancy properties, local land trusts and town parks. Go hiking, mountain biking, paddling, swimming, walking, picnicking. Many often have free educational programs, too, such as guided walks or talks. Another plus: Getting the kids outside is a cure for nature-deficit disorder.

Bike a rail trail or join an organized ride. (yes, that means go into the cellar, barn or garage and find the bike, clean it up, pump up the tires, maybe get it checked at a local shop…)

• Find out what’s in the community’s attic. Local historical society museums or small, quirky museums are often free or nearly so, and they’re usually staffed by volunteers who are passionate about the collections. Maine Museums has links to most.

• Many towns and L.L. Bean sponsor free weekly concert series. Check the Maine Arts Commission calendar for other free concerts and arts-related events

Enter here to visit the newly renovated Bowdoin College Museum of Art. Afterward, visit the Peary-Macmillan Museum in Hubbard Hall. Both are free.

Enter here to visit the newly renovated Bowdoin College Museum of Art. Afterward, visit the Peary-Macmillan Museum in Hubbard Hall. Both are free.

• Maine college campuses are home to free museums and activities. At Bowdoin, visit the Museum of Art and Peary MacMillan Arctic Museum; at Colby, visit the Art Museum; at UMO, visit the Hudson Museum and Page Farm.

• The Farnsworth Museum, in Rockland, is free on Sundays from 10 a.m.¬1 p.m.

• The Portland Museum of Art is free on Friday nights.

• Bangor’s free, three-day American Folk Festival is jam-packed with entertainment and exhibits; Aug. 22-24.

Poland Spring Preservation Park is free: tour the museum in the original bottling plant, the Maine State Building and the All Souls Chapel

• Try rock hounding in the Oxford Hills or panning for gold in Coos Canyon.

• Visit a farm or farmers’ market.

• Explore a rail trail.

• Maine residents have free daytime use of Baxter State Park.

• Walk the Rockland breakwater or walk through history in Castine or an art walk

Willing to spend a few bucks?

Eagle Island

Eagle Island

• It’s fair and festival season in Maine. Check the state and agriculture events calendars.

• Take advantage of Maine’s state parks. (fees $2 to $5 pp; $60 pass covers a carload).

• Go to Acadia National Park ($20 per vehicle for a week-long pass) for the Mount Desert Island section of the park. The Schoodic section does’t require a pass.

• Take an L.L. Bean Walk-On Discovery course for $15 or go sea-kayaking in Portland Harbor with Bean’s on a 90-minute tour ($29).

• Hop a ferry to an offshore island: Both Peaks in Casco Bay and Vinalhaven in Penobscot Bay are easy to explore on foot, and Eagle Island has the bonus of being a historic site.

Ready for a cost-controlled splurge?

• Sail for three-days or longer on a Maine windjammer

• Spend a few days at a traditional, lakefront Maine sporting camp, such as Libby’s or Bradford Camps, which include meals in the daily rate.

• Hike into Poplar Falls for an overnight, with dinner and breakfast, at the first hut on the new Maine Huts and Trails system.

Okay, that should be enough to get you started… Now share your ideas.