Even before the “official” start of the 2019 season, the Fifth Maine Museum hosted seven school field trips. Local students ranging in age from fourth grade through twelfth enjoyed the combination of a ferry boat ride and an engaging museum visit.

Backpacks piled up outside the museum’s front door.

Several of the Fifth Maine Museum board members and our curator, Holly Hurd-Forsyth, have experience as museum educators, and they do a terrific job of providing age-appropriate content to the students.

Board member Dick Macguire encourages visiting high school students to investigate the artifacts in the displays around the main hall.

The younger students tend to focus on three or four “cool” items in the collection and are always interested in the view off the porch. For older students, actually seeing the items described in their text books (such as kepis, haversacks, or hardtack) helps to define days gone by. It’s an eye-opening experience.

The battle flag was a big hit with the fourth and fifth graders.

Board member Peter Bridgford commented that the learning isn’t a one-way street. “In reading the names etched into the windows, the kids and I noticed many duplicate last names – names of brothers or cousins. It dawned on me that the Union Army of 1861 was slightly different than the army of today that is recruited from all over the country. The young men in each Company of the Fifth Maine Regiment would most likely have come from the same place. These soldiers would have grown up together and probably knew each other before the war. We talked about how losing a fellow soldier in battle must have really affected the young men – it really hit me.”

Peter Bridgford explains the Fifth Maine Museum’s iconic stained glass windows.

Almost all classroom field trips share a couple things in common – lunch on the porch and a class picture on the steps. Classroom teachers that are interested in coming to the Fifth Maine Museum for a field trip can find out more details here.

Lunch with a million dollar view!

The Fifth Maine Museum steps have been in thousands of photographs over the years!

Change is afoot in the temporary exhibit room at the Fifth Maine Museum. Our extremely popular post card exhibit has been dismounted to make room for our new Peaks Island in the 1970’s exhibit, which opens on June 21, 2019.

The exhibit will feature some never-seen-before artifacts and pictures from daily life of islanders in the 1970’s –  from ferry strikes to artist studios to sports teams and new stores.

So be sure to visit our new exhibit! It will be installed through October 2020!

And if you missed our postcard exhibit, you can still check it out – we’ve installed a few of the reproduction postcards in our restrooms.

George Bicknell joined the Fifth Maine Regiment as a private, was promoted to company sergeant after just four months, later second lieutenant, then first lieutenant and regimental adjutant. He was a seasoned soldier, devoted to his comrades in arms, and a champion of the “Tough Old Fifth.”

Years after writing History of the Fifth Maine Regiment in 1871, Bicknell created a lecture entitled Down in Dixie: A Veteran’s Story of the Civil War. Notably, he used a “magic lantern” and glass slides to illustrate the scenes he described in his talk. The novelty of this new technology (an early type of slide projector) was a draw all by itself. But by the late nineteenth century, interest in the Civil War flourished. Aging, nostalgic veterans and a country struggling with post-war Reconstruction sought to memorialize the Civil War. Bicknell hit the lecture circuit.

Bicknell’s slides and notes are part of the Fifth Maine Museum collection and some of Bicknell’s original glass slides and the lecture program are on display at the Fifth Maine Museum.

“Company H Officers”

One of Bicknell’s stories was about the Fifth Maine’s picket duty in April 1863 at Rappahannock. Bicknell said, “The picket lines … were so near together, that conversation between the two could be easily carried on.”

“Picket Duty at Night”

Camp Scene. Bicknell Lantern Slide Collection.

Researchers from all over utilize the archives at the Fifth Maine Regiment Museum. Here’s an article based on our Bicknell collection.