Creative Maine explores the creativity and ingenuity that created the Maine economy as we know it today through the historical parade banners of the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association and examples from some of the most innovative businesses in Maine today.
In 1841, MCMA members marched through the streets of downtown Portland to demonstrate their skills and support for their individual trades, as well as for craftspeople struggling to earn a supporting wage in the changing economy. Creative Maine shares the stories of past individuals who led the MCMA, who were skilled in their crafts, and who created successful industries for Maine. Each MCMA trade banner—exquisitely preserved and ready for display—is shown in the exhibition alongside the story of a craftsperson in that specific trade. Also displayed are modern-day examples of those same trades.
As importantly, this exhibition celebrates Maine’s cultural community. In August 2010, 16 Maine museums, historical organizations, and their supporters came together in an unprecedented collaboration to save this important collection of Maine artifacts when they went on auction and were at risk of being sold, split up, and leaving Maine. The effort was led by Maine Historical Society and included Portland Museum of Art, Maine State Museum, Maine Maritime Museum, Bates College Museum of Art, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, and Colby College Museum of Art. Individuals, foundations, and corporate donors, including L.L. Bean and the Libra Foundation were also critical to this effort.