By Carol McCracken
The Board of Directors of the Portland Harbor Museum has announced that it is relocating its facility to 510 Congress Street, effective Wednesday, May 20th. Three new exhibits will be opened on May 22 and run until October 18, 2009 at the new address in downtown Portland.
The reason to relocate from its 22 year waterfront home at Southern Maine Community College to downtown Portland did not come easily for the Board of Directors. But the move was determined as necessary for the future well-being of this non-profit. Despite the scenic waterfront location of the Museum, it was so far off the beaten track, that it was hard to attract visitors to the location. During the last five years or so, the Museum at its South Portland location had drawn 4,000 people a year. “Not enough visitors to sustain a museum,” wrote Mark R. Thompson, executive director, of the Museum in a special edition of the “Portland Harbor Beacon” sent to members of the Museum. In addition, there were serious physical problems with the building which were a serious drawback in storing and displaying exhibits and collections and other aspects of maintaining a viable Museum and work environment for employees.
The new space offers many basic improvements over the old facility, minus the valued waterfront location. The exhibit space has doubled that of the former location. It’s anticipated in 2009 there will be seven exhibits running – which hopefully will provide something of interest for all visitors. Eventually, there will be space devoted to childrens’ interests. The Museum hopes it will be the beneficiary of the downtown traffic around it; it’s in the central business district and the city’s Arts District. “The Portland Museum of Art, the Children’s Museum, the Maine College of Art, The Salt Institute, the Maine Historical Society and the Portland Public Library are all within 2 l/2 blocks of the new location. This is the cultural center of the city; it is the cultural center for all of our individual cities and town,” wrote Penelope P. Carson, Chairperson, Board of Directors, in the special edition of the “Portland Harbor Beacon.”
The three exhibits starting later this month are:
Dean Abramson Photographs: Harbor Views
Nance Trueworthy Photographs: Faces of the Working Waterfront
Good Work, Sister: Women Shipyard Workers During World War II ( Sponsored by Maine Humanities Council)
For more information, please visit ww.portlandharbormuseum.org