Posts Tagged ‘Maine State Museum’


Malaga Island

March 30, 2021

Resources available

The Maine State Museum is a wealth of information for teachers of all content and grade levels. One topic that they have excellent resources on is Malaga Island. The story of the island and the people who lived there have been of interest to me for some time.

If you’re not familiar with Malaga it is a 41 acre island located near Phippsburg at the mouth of the New Meadows River in Casco Bay. It was the site of an interracial community from the Civil War until 1911, when the residents were forced to leave their homes.

From the Maine State Museum webpage

By July 1, 1912, the community on Maine’s Malaga Island ceased to exist. The State of Maine had evicted the mixed-race community of fisherman and laborers in order to clear the small coastal island of “It’s Shiftless Population of Half-Breed Blacks and Whites”, as one 1911 newspaper article described it. The mixed-race community was controversial in the state; many people saw the island as an ugly mark on the pristine beauty of Maine’s coast. After years of well-publicized legal battles, the state succeeded in removing the community of around forty people, committing eight to the Maine School for the Feeble Minded. By the end of 1912, all visible traces of the community disappeared – houses were moved and the cemetery was exhumed.

Not long ago the museum had a comprehensive exhibit on the community and they’ve been able to include many of the resources online (links below) so we can continue to learn from them.

The museum has also archived 5 lessons which include background info, teaching resources, and photographs from the island settlement. Lessons are located at THIS LINK.

If you have any questions about the museum’s resources please contact Joanna Torow, Chief Educator at the museum at

In addition to the above resources Kate McBrien, Maine State Archivist, presented at the Southwest Harbor Public Library and that recorded presentation is below. At some point there was a shift in the attitude towards Malaga Island. In 2010 Governor John Baldacci visited the island and apologized for the wrong that had been done on the island and to its residents. One of the descendants accepted the apology and communicated how grateful the state of Maine acknowledges the history. You can hear the recording from the ceremony and other stories documented at THIS LINK.


Primary Source Documents

March 11, 2021

State of Maine

It’s great to find resources that are authentic instead of creating fake ones to use. Recently many of the cultural agencies in Maine worked together to create Primary Source Sets on two topics – several Bicentennial topics and a general one on Pandemics. I have scanned the resources and found them very useful. We can thank the Maine State Archives, Maine State Museum, Maine State Library, and Maine Historical Society. They are wonderful resources on specific topics to make resources easily findable for teachers.

These are wonderful resources to use collaboratively with colleagues to help plan connected authentic curricula and experiences. Currently, the educational sets live on the Maine State Museum website, but the collaborative group is working to create a separate website to house them.

The information for this post was provided by the newly elected Maine State Archivist and first woman to serve in the position, Kate McBrien. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Kate with questions and/or ideas. She can be reached at Interestingly enough when I was online learning more I found a youtube video of a presentation that Kate did for the Southwest Harbor Library on Malaga. I am curious about Malaga and how to incorporate the history into my curriculum and found this very interesting.

Message from Kate

“The cultural organizations of Maine hold a treasure trove of important material that help to connect students to Maine’s history. These Primary Source Sets are meant to help teachers easily find and use a wide range of historical resources from a variety of institutions. Our collaborative approach allows the most relevant historical material to be available to every student and educator in one, easy place to access. We plan to continue this program and will continue to develop more primary source sets.”


Portland Stage

October 12, 2019

Interactive Theatre for social change 

Consider providing a unique opportunity for your students to explore the intersection of art and social history? The Maine State Museum and Maine State Library invites you to join Portland Stage for an interactive Theatre for Social Change workshop exploring the images, concepts, and stories of the women’s suffrage movement. The workshop is designed to put the stories of the movement into the hands and hearts of students, allowing them to examine their personal connection to the struggles and victories of the past.  Each workshop session will begin with an educator-led introduction the museum’s exhibition Women’s Long Road – 100 Years to the Vote.


Theater for Social Change Workshops led by teaching artists from Portland Stage

Cost: FREE!


Monday, October 28 and on Tuesday, October 29 – same workshop each day, choose one date


10:00 AM – 12:00 PM, schools are welcome to stay longer and use our atrium space for lunch


Maine State Museum & Maine State Library both located at 230 State Street, Augusta

Who & How Many 

The workshop is designed for middle & high school students; workshops are limited to 30 students per workshop


Joanna Torow, Chief Educator, Maine State Museum 207-287-6608


Maranacook Middle School

November 8, 2018

The Labor Mural

Best known as the Labor Mural, artwork created by Judy Taylor, now hangs in the entrance to the Maine State Museum in Augusta. Dan Holman, a team leader for the Acadia Team at Maranacook Middle School applied for the Maine Arts Commission Ticket to Ride funds for a trip to the State Museum. After reviewing the application I was curious about the trip and the details of the lesson/unit.

Dan worked with Joanna Torow the Chief Educator at the Maine State Museum to design a field trip that would coincide with the studies back at school. They took a deep dive look at the meaning behind each of the murals panels.


The museum has been working with outside contractors to create a digital kiosk that will allow visitors to have a more in-depth interpretive experience in regards to the mural using additional museum objects, photographs, documents, and oral history. They are interviewing the artist, Judy Taylor, and will include a video of her talking about her process and goals for creating the work.  Through this work, the curator and the museum’s educators have made more connections to the artwork and the exhibits on display, it is these insights they hope to share with the students visiting.


To prepare of the trip, the students read short essays (200 words or less) they have written about each panel. They were excited to hear their personal thoughts on the panel, as an artwork with a very specific goal and as a historic document.

Museum Curator of Historical Collections, Angela Goebel-Bain and Joanna lead a discussion with the students (based on discussion and emails with Dan Holman) in front of the Maine Labor Murals. They talked about the subjects as well as the choices the artist made in what she included in each panel, what she left out, how she choose to depict the subject, tools, and people, and how she deliberately used the foreground and background to extend the storytelling.


Dan plans to have the students work on an journal activity in response to the mural after the discussion at the mural. The students will also be took part in two 30 minute gallery programs focused on either Ice Harvesting, Granite Quarrying, Logging & Lumbering, and a guided tour of the Made in Maine exhibit (19th century work and life in Maine with a focus on textile productions and waterpower).

The mural provides first hand knowledge from an artists’ perspective of so much history – granite quarrying, textile industry, child labor, and wood industry all included images in the mural. It provides the opportunity for the educators – museum and school – to reinforce student learning.

If you’d like to learn more about the museum programs please contact Joanna Torow. If you’d like to learn more about the unit that is underway please contact Dan Holman. Thank you to both for providing information for this blog post and the opportunity to be at the museum during the presentation.

The Maine Arts Commission Ticket to Ride program provides funding to defray the cost of travel for Maine schools wishing to visit Maine arts based venues and events as part of a well-rounded curriculum. The goals of the trip should support student learning and be aligned with the Maine Learning Results Visual and/or Performing Arts standards. Any PK-12 school in Maine with a documented free and reduced lunch student population between 30 and 49 percent is eligible to receive support of up to $300 each school year. Any PK-12 school in Maine with a documented free and reduced lunch student population of 50 percent or greater is eligible to receive support of up to $500 each school year. Applications are accepted throughout the year and funding will be made available approximately one month after they are submitted. Schools may apply more than once a year as long as they are applying to attend a different event, bringing a different student population or have not expended their eligible amount. 

%d bloggers like this: