This year is only half over, and it has already been an amazing one for Maine cultural institutions working together. Collaboration among cultural institutions in Maine is the subject of my article in the current issue of Maine Policy Review.
From the Maine Photo Project to the Maine Art Museum Trail‘s Director’s Cut show, museums in Maine are providing visible, quantifiable, crowd-pleasing evidence that the work we do matters more when we do it together.
Collaboration among cultural institutions in Maine is the subject of my article in the current issue of Maine Policy Review, which is hot off the presses and burning up the internet. This special issue, co-edited by Liam Riordan of the University of Maine Humanities Center, is dedicated to the importance of the humanities in public life.
Starting ‘way back with the founding of the Maine Charitable Mechanics Association in 1815–and the Bangor Charitable Mechanics shortly thereafter–I trace the history of collaborative institutions, collectives, and cultural initiatives in the state, going all the way up the present day. Here is some of what I discuss: Union of Maine Visual Artists, All-Maine Biennials, Maine Art Museum Trail, Maine Curators’ Forum (and its current project, the Maine Photo Project), Maine Folk Art Trail, Maine Civil War Trail, Maine Archives and Museums, collective efforts to purchase the journals of John Martin and the Charitable Mechanics’ labor banners for Maine collections, the Maine Historical Society and Portland Public Library’s shared storage initiative, Maine Memory Network, the Langlais Art Trail, and more. And since the article has gone to press I’ve found out about yet another “trail” collaborative, the Yankee Ingenuity Museum Trail, which includes my former stomping grounds, the Saco Museum!
As I wrote in the article:
Maine has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the arts and humanities: some of the world’s most beautiful and richly varied scenery, first-tier museums and academic institutions, and summer weather that was pre-ordained for painting outside. But it also has daunting challenges: deep economic, cultural, and geographical divides; relative isolation from the rest of the country; and darkness at 3:30 p.m. in December. Throughout Maine’s history collaborative initiatives among the state’s cultural practitioners have sought to share the blessings and transmute the difficulties, providing evidence that Mainers remain committed to working together for the benefit of our state arts community.
You can find the full issue online here or you can order a hard copy or subscribe. If you are interested in the future of the arts and humanities in Maine–and if you are reading my blog, I’m guessing that you are!–this one is a keeper.