Maine is a natural wonderland from the rocky coastline to the vast forests. The state is also home to many fascinating cultural institutions, including natural history and cultural history museums.
While you’re planning your next trip to Maine, be sure to include at least one natural or cultural history museum visit in your itinerary. If you’re not sure which museums to choose, we’ve put together a list of some of Maine’s hidden gems that you won’t want to miss.
The Abbe Museum is located in the town of Bar Harbor and is dedicated to the cultural heritage and natural history of Maine’s Native Americans, the Wabanaki. Their mission is to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds through various workshops, archeology field schools, and special events that showcase the Wabanaki culture.
The Abbe first opened as a trailside museum within Acadia National Park and has since expanded to the contemporary museum in Bar Harbor. For a truly unique experience, the trailside museum is still open to visitors at the Sieur de Monts Spring location from spring through fall. There, visitors can observe many of the original collections and artifacts featured in the museum when it first opened in 1928.
Abbe Museum website
The Maine Mineral & Gem Museum is located in Bethel, Maine, and is home to the finest collection of Maine gems and minerals. It also has one of the most prominent collections of extraterrestrial rocks in the world, featuring meteorites from Mars, the Asteroid Belt, and five of the largest pieces of the Moon found on Earth. Each of the 19 interactive exhibits is dynamic and designed to enlighten visitors to the Earth’s origin and the wonders of space.
Maine Mineral & Gem Museum
The L.C. Bates Museum is located on the Good Will-Hinckley campus in Fairfield, Maine. The natural history museum is home to an extensive collection of Maine wildlife dioramas, artwork, archaeological artifacts, and more.
L.C. Bates Museum website
The museum is best known for its picturesque habitat dioramas, first created in the 1920s by Impressionist Charles Hubbard. These dioramas feature many of Maine’s native species in their natural surroundings.
The Dorr Museum of Natural History is located on the College of the Atlantic campus in Bar Harbor, Maine. This museum features an extensive collection of habitat dioramas that have been created by the COA students to show Maine’s wildlife in its natural environment. The taxidermy mounts are displayed in lifelike poses, and the dioramas are set in natural landscapes, giving visitors a closer look at the local ecology.
The museum also has a tide pool tank that allows guests to observe a variety of snails, sea stars, hermit crabs, and other marine creatures. Visitors are even allowed to touch many of the creatures as they learn about Maine’s natural history.
If you’re looking for a phenomenal educational experience, be sure to visit one of these fantastic museums. Each one offers a wide variety of exhibits and collections that are perfect for everyone, from families with children to avid naturalists.
Dorr Museum of Natural History website
Visit a Wildlife Refuge
If you’d like to learn more about Maine’s coastal islands, visit us at the Rockland Visitor Center of the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The visitor center is home to our Nature Store, Education Exhibits, a gallery featuring environmental art, and an outdoor replica of a Seabird Island where visitors can learn about our great coast through education and exploration.