A Story of Maine in 112 Objects: From Prehistory to Modern Times (Hardcover)
Founded in 1836, the Maine State Museum is America’s oldest state museum and is known to many as “Maine’s Smithsonian” because of the breadth and diversity of its holdings—nearly a million objects covering every aspect of the state’s cultural, biological, and geological history—and the thousands of stories its collections tell. For this book the museum selected and photographed 112 artifacts and specimens that, together, tell an epic story of the land and its people from prehistoric times to the present.
It is a story covering 395 million years, a story told with a walrus skull and fossils, tourmaline and spear points, mammoth tusks and bone fishhooks, Norse coins and caulking irons, militia flags and survey stakes, treaty documents and wooden tankards, a temperance banner and a locomotive, Joshua Chamberlain’s pistol and a cod tub trawl, a Lombard log hauler and a woman’s WWII welding outfit, L. L. Bean boots and German POW snowshoes, and many more objects from the museum’s collections. Short narratives written by museum curators are woven around each item—including photos of related objects—and the ensemble has been honed, polished, and introduced by museum director Bernard Fishman.
This is a book that historians and Maine residents and visitors will delve into again and again, unearthing new treasures with each reading.
About the Author
BERNARD P. FISHMAN has been an Egyptologist, an academic, and the director of five museums, including, since 2012, the Maine State Museum. He is a native New Yorker with honors history degrees from Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania, whose family operated businesses in Maine for over 40 years. He has written extensively on archaeological, historical, and museum-related subjects.
Using items from the Maine State Museum, 'A Story of Maine in 112 Objects' reflects the state's cultural ups and downs with wit and imagination.
Throughout 400 or so pages of pictures and text, this brew of scholarly caution, imaginative possibility and context makes every object come alive. There is nothing magic about the number, 112. Maine State Museum director Bernard P. Fishman and his staff carefully chose the objects they felt would tell Maine’s story most cogently. It turned out there were 112 of them.
The 112th object is especially touching: a Russian folk costume given to Samantha Smith when its leader, Yuri Andropov, invited her to visit the USSR in 1983. She had written asking him if he wanted to “conquer the world.” The picture of the 10-year-old Mainer, who died in a plane crash two years later, “will forever promote peace and the idea that hope can overcome fear.” “A Story of Maine” ends with this emotional as well as intellectual “uplift.” It deserves to be on display in every house in Maine.
— Thomas Urquhart - Maine Sunday Telegram/Portland Press Herald