Maine State Museum celebrates the state on Saturday with ‘Maine Fest’


Sarah Clark of Waterville takes a punch while playing disc golf on April 15 at Capitol Park in Augusta. Journal Andy Molloy / Kennebec

AUGUSTA – A plethora of Maine-themed family activities are scheduled for Saturday at Capitol Park in Augusta during the Maine State Museum’s “Maine Fest” event.

The event is free and will run from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Joanna Torow, State Museum of Maine chief educator, said this will be the first time the museum will host the event. With the museum currently closed, she said she and other museum officials determined that an outdoor event would be a great way to stay in touch with the public.

“Even though the building is unavailable, we got a permit for Capitol Park,” Torow said. “It’s nearby, right across from the museum, and we thought it would be a great way to reach out and have fun with our visitors.”

She and other members of the museum’s educational team began planning the event and Amarinda Keys, Director of the Children’s Discovery Museum of Central Maine in Waterville, also asked to collaborate.

From there, Keys and Torow reached out to organizations in the area to see if they were interested in participating, including the Maine State Library, Friends of the Cobbossee Watershed, and the Kennebec Family Enrichment Council.

The Discovery Museum will offer a variety of activities for young children, and the Maine State Library will host STEM-themed events that focus on the beauty of the natural world. The Friends of the Cobbossee Watershed will provide information about their organization and its mission, while also organizing activities that help young children think about environmental issues in a fun and educational way.

“We’re also going to take a tour of Capitol Park,” Torow said. “We will examine some of its natural elements as well as its history. It’s about a 20 minute walk around the park, which has a lot of monuments. I think it will be really fun.

There will also be freebies, including boxes and popcorn. Torow said the main goal is for guests to have fun and remember the museum.

In addition to the museum closing, she said the event is taking place outdoors, as they know many members of the public are more comfortable outdoors during the pandemic.

“There will be signage to remind people of social distancing, and some activities will be available for one family or group at a time, so there may be a bit of a wait because of that,” Torow said. “We will also have hand sanitizer and wipes available.”

It is a “rain or shine” event, she said, and awnings will be installed in the event of rain.

“If there are showers we will be brave and I hope it passes,” Torow said.

Like many other facilities across the country, the Maine State Museum closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It briefly reopened in June, but soon after, the building suffered an HVAC outage and closed again.

In order to address these issues, state lawmakers approved $ 15 million in funding through the Maine Governmental Facilities Authority’s program for repairs and upgrades to heating, cooling and electrical systems. The money will also be used to remove asbestos from the building.

“The museum will likely be closed for several years,” Torow said.

And while they initially hoped to reopen in 2023, delays in the project have pushed the date back to spring 2024.

“It’s temporary,” she said. “Things are constantly changing and evolving. We hope to open as soon as possible.

But in the meantime, she said the museum hopes to continue raising awareness by hosting events like Maine Fest.

“We hope to be in the community,” she said. “Even though we can’t get them into the building, we’re going to bring some of the fun things they remember to the world to interact with. “

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