See & Do
In many ways, the Portland Museum of Art (7 Congress Square, 207-775-6148, www.portlandmuseum.org) located near the intersection of Congress and High streets, is the anchor for this district's artistic and cultural vibe. This world-class institution contains more than three hundred years of global art with special emphasis on Maine's unique place in history as an arts colony. The celebrated works of most European and American masters can be seen and enjoyed here. The nearby Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine (142 Free Street, 207-828-1234, www.childrensmuseumofme.org) is one of the prime locations for families anywhere in Maine. This museum hosts many hands-on exhibits to delight and educate youngsters for hours including children’s play areas featuring a bank, market, and car repair shop. And, because this is Maine, there is also a lobster boat, shipyard, pirate boat, and a special L.L. Bean-sponsored outdoor exhibit that will thrill and excite the little ones. Exhibits focusing on science, dress-up theater, and the sea can also be found here. Fans of the unusual will find the International Cryptozoology Museum (11 Avon Street, 207-518-9496, www.cryptozoologymuseum.org) especially fascinating. In addition to an extensive collection of preserved (as in taxidermist-prepared) species, this museum explores the pursuit of so-called legendary beasts such as the Yeti (Abominable Snowman) and Big Foot. It’s an out of the ordinary museum experience that is sure to raise quite a few eyebrows among visitors, The Maine Historical Society (489 Congress Street, 207-774-1822, www.mainehistory.org) packs quite a bit of Maine history within it’s relatively small, three room location. It succinctly traces the 300 plus years of European settlement in the Pine Tree State, as well as presenting exhibits that chronicle Native American societies prior to Columbus. There are a few surprises on view including a review of French Canadian snowshoe clubs in Lewiston, a look at the once-flourishing Maine health resort industry for those struggling with lung conditions, and personal rememberances of workers in the timber, sailing and railroad industries. Also of interest at the museum is the adjoining Wadsworth-Longfellow House, a perfectly restored 1800s mansion that was the birthplace of famous American scribe and philosopher Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (open to the public on a seasonal basis).