The 2019 season, my first as Curator of Education, was stuffed to its hilt with beautiful days (and busy, rainy days!), great visitors, and fun events and programming at the museum. We are now in our off-season, and I thought it appropriate to reflect on some of the highlights of the season – from a car show to a punk rock musical to a wedding to a Tinker Camp.
SPRING FIELD DAYS – Due to extensive grounds work at Woodlawn Museum, Gardens, and Park, we hosted their annual Spring Field Days program at the auto museum, welcoming over 220 seventh and eighth graders from the region, most of whom had never been to the museum before. They learned all about innovation from auto museum staff and professionals from Jackson Laboratory, the Maine Forest and Logging Museum, Woodlawn Museum, and the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries.
TINKER CAMPS – We led two weeks of Tinker Camp for 4th-7th graders through Camp Beech Cliff, and filled our beautiful summer days with building, brainstorming, hot-gluing, cardboard-cutting, machine-disassembly, and more. Campers created electric cars, built body armor out of cardboard, and used their wits and their hands to solve problems, test theories, and keep on trying!
CAR-B-QUE – Our Events Committee set a goal of 30 cars for our car show on the south field this past August, and no less than 60 showed up on a gorgeous Saturday morning on the Quietside to display their collector and antique automobiles. Add bluegrass and Americana music, mouth-watering BBQ, and a great community – it couldn’t be beat.
AD RECREATIONS – We decided to have a little fun during the second season of our exhibit, Selling Lifestyle & Leisure: Art, Advertising, and the Automobile, by recreating vintage automobile ads with appearances from our game-for-anything staff!
LEARNED TO DRIVE WITH A TILLER – I’ve always driven with a steering wheel, so driving our 1922 Detroit Electric with a tiller was an interesting experience. (I’m not behind the wheel in the picture below, but that’s the Detroit I learned to drive.)
LEARNED TO DRIVE STANDARD – Before this summer, I had never driven a standard shift vehicle. Thanks to volunteer Jim Phelps’s awesome tutelage, I drove my first manual transmission automobile: a 1928 Ford Model A Huckster!
CONNECTING WITH THE KEALYS – We were thrilled to welcome two of Charles Abbott’s granddaughters to the museum; they had never seen an Abbott-Detroit car before, and were surprised that, not only were we going to start her up for them, we were also going to give them a ride! Their grandfather Charles was the founding President of the Abbott-Detroit Motor Car Company. It was such a treat to host his descendants!
AUDIO TOUR – I had the pleasure to work with former Director of Curatorial Affairs, Roberto Rodriguez, on Every Car Has a Story, our first audio tour at the museum.
TEACHER PARTY – In late October, we were honored to welcome local educators for a teacher party and open house at the museum. We are developing school programs and field trip opportunities for regional students, and appreciated the chance to hear from teachers what they need from us and how we can support them in their good work. We threw all kinds of great ideas around, and I can’t wait to get started
PROFESSIONAL CONFERENCES – New to curating and the auto museum world, I was fascinated to learn more about the profession and its many great people at two conferences this year: the National Association of Automobile Museum conference in South Bend, Indiana (got to visit the amazing Studebaker National Museum! -pictured right), and the New England Museum Association conference in Burlington, VT. History geeks unite!
PRIVATE EVENTS – One of our goals for the year was to increase the number of private events held at the museum, and we met that goal with no lack of variety thrown in! The museum served as a gathering place for the Island Connections annual meeting; a punk rock musical from a duo called The Cold Harts; a wedding with over 150 guests; and a huge Star Party in our south field during the Acadia Night Sky Festival in September.
I can’t wait for next year – if this season is any indication, and with great recurring programs and new events lined up for next summer, 2020 is going to be a blast. 🙂