Current Exhibitions

MAKING HISTORY: Art and Industry in the Saco River Valley

Come and see the history of the Saco River Valley as you never have before, with art, historical artifacts, computer activities, and hands-on activities for all ages. "Making History: Art and Industry in the Saco River Valley" is a part of a community-wide initiative that includes permanent exhibitions at the Saco Museum, the Dyer Library and the Saco Transportation Center, as well as an object-based traveling program that will reach out to schools in Maine. The project is funded by a Preserve America grant administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, by the Maine Humanities Council, and by additional donors.

Through fine art, historical artifacts, words and pictures, and interactive, hands-on activities, "Making History: Art and Industry in the Saco River Valley" explores the rich tradition of making things in this region. From the founding of the cities on the Saco in the 17th century, to the creation of fine and decorative arts in the early 19th century, to the booming factories of the later 19th and 20th centuries, to the arts and manufacturing traditions that endure today, the energy, creativity, and industry of this place come to life. The idea of preservation, revitalization, and renewal—in terms of this area's historic fabric as well as its natural resources—is a key idea throughout the exhibition.

The exhibition explores several themes that trace the idea of "making" in a local context from 17th century to the present. These themes include: 1) Making Contact: Native Populations, European Exploration, and the First Immigrants; 2) Making Waves: Seafaring and Shipbuilding; 3) Made for Trade: Early Industry and Commerce in the Cities on the Saco; 4) Made in the Mills: Factories of the Saco River; 5) Made With a Purpose: The Arts and Philanthropy; 6) Made in the Shade: Tourism; 7) Making a Home: Immigration; and 8) Making a Difference: Preservation and Conservation. The exhibition will also tie in to Making Her Way: Mill Girls of Saco and Biddeford, a recreated factory girl boardinghouse bedroom that opened to the public on the second floor of the Saco Museum on October 30, 2009.

With the help of exhibit designer Brewster Buttfield of Prospect Design in Portland, Maine, hands-on activities will be especially designed for kids and families, as well as interactive computer stations geared for researchers and history hounds. These activities will join an array of art and artifacts from the museum's collection, including paintings, furniture, decorative arts, photographs, textiles, graphics, historical and industrial artifacts, and more. Visitors will also have the opportunity to "Make Friends With" figures from various periods in Saco’s history. Please join the Saco Museum as we celebrate a new decade and a new chapter in the history of the museum and the cities on the Saco!

Image: William Stoodley Gookin, "Saco Falls," 1829, oil on canvas