Posted on April 3rd, 2012 by museum
Is it Manhattan, circa 1968?
Or is it the Saco Museum Mill-ennial, opening Thursday, April 5 at 5:30 p.m.?
Only one way to find out (hint: it does not involve traveling back in time)! See you on Thursday.
Pictured: works by Michele A. Caron (Buxton) and Bull for Picasso by Robin Puleio (Saco). Photo courtesy Saco Museum. The grainy effect is totally accidental, but kind of appealingly retro, right?
Posted on March 6th, 2012 by museum
What Can the Dyer Library and Saco Museum Do for You?
That question was the central topic in today’s meeting of the DLSM’s Strategic Planning Committee. We’re a public library and a public museum, and so it’s our responsibility to constantly be looking ahead to plan for how we can continue to provide all the essential resources you’ve come to expect from us.
Our Strategic Plans are active for about five years, and (obviously) the 2006-2011 plan has come to a close. A very successful close–if you would like a snapshot of some of what we achieved during that time, we invite you to take a look at this 2011 Nomination for the National Medal in Museum and Library Services. Though we were not awarded the medal–competition was stiff–we were honored to receive the nomination from the office of Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, who contributed a letter of support. You’ll also find letters of support from the Maine Humanities Council and the City of Saco, bearing testimony to all that we do for our local and state communities.
A draft of the 2012-17 Strategic Plan is on the table, but there’s much work left to do. We will be asking for input from all members of our constituency–museum visitors, library patrons, staff, trustees, local teachers, legislators, and others. So keep your eyes open for a survey–which will be sent via e-mail and will also be available at the library and museum–and let us know what we’re doing right, what we could improve, and what else we can do for you as your Dyer Library and Saco Museum!
Posted on January 20th, 2012 by museum
One of the things that I love about working in a history museum is the opportunity to interpret and display all kinds of weird and unexpected things. Before coming to the Saco Museum I’d worked mostly in art museums–all of which I loved and continue to love–but it could be a hard sell sometimes to try to convince the powers to be to put something on view not because it was beautiful or important or artistic but because it was just interesting. I think our current exhibition, Rugs All Marked Out: Biddeford’s Edward S. Frost, satisfies that urge in me to show the weird stuff that was never meant to be seen–metal stencils and burlap patterns created to revolutionize the 19th-century hooked rug industry–while also showing some of the truly artful finished rugs that they made possible.
You can read all about Frost here, but the nutshell version is that Frost was a tin peddler here in Biddeford, Maine in the 1870s. In his travels he recognized a gap in the marketplace for hooked-rug patterns, so he put his “Yankee ingenuity,” in his words, and his metalworking skills to work: he created an entirely new way to produce burlap rug patterns by using sheet metal stencils, and in doing so he created an industry that endures to this day.
Frost’s patterns, and the rugs that were made from them, can still be found in antiques stores and auctions today, but the stencils are more special. Once owned by the Henry Ford Museum, which specializes in industrial history, the stencils (about 750 total) were transferred to the collections of the Maine State Museum in the early 2000s. The Maine State Museum has generously agreed to share some highlights from their collection of stencils–along with related rugs and patterns–with us for this show.
It’s REALLY interesting to see the rugs and patterns alongside the stencils! Frost was clearly not just a clever enterpreneur, but also an artisan. Each pattern required multiple stencils and multiple colors of ink, which must have required a remarkable ability on Frost’s part to see through to the end product. Some of the patterns are incredibly complex.
Probably my favorite “moment” in the show is represented in this picture:
That’s a stencil, burlap pattern, and completed hooked rug for Pattern #57, one of Frost’s prettiest floral patterns. To my knowledge, this is the first time ever that Frost’s entire production process, start to finish, has been displayed in the context of a single design. It’s really interesting to see how the pattern changes but also stays the same in three entirely different media.
Of course I also love this image of Pattern #7 and its accompanying stencil:
That’s the Saco Museum’s very handsome burlap lion on the left, and the Maine State Museum’s related stencil on the right. For me, this burlap pattern is what started it all–I used it in an exhibition called A Treasured Ten in 2009, and while I was researching the maker I learned about the Maine State Museum’s collection. In the 2 1/2 years since then the Saco Museum acquired several more Frost pieces and has worked with the Maine State Museum staff and guest curator Jane E. Radcliffe to put together an exhibition that celebrates both museums’ holdings. We’re so proud of what we’ve created together–and proud of our native son, Edward S. Frost, as well. And we’re proud to show the weird and the wonderful together!
–Jessica Skwire Routhier, Museum Director
Posted on November 17th, 2011 by museum
It’s always fun to do the buying for the Saco Museum gift shop this time of year. So many people come through our doors for Festival of Trees (November 26-December 31), and the shop is a big attraction for many. So we try to make it look pretty, too! Right now it’s all a-glitter with lots of new products, including adorable paperboard gingerbread houses and village buildings ($28 each), as well as bottle-brush Christmas trees in green and ivory ($6-$14). Here are a few other new items, all from local artisans:
Sunflower Hill scented soaps from Hollis in Peppermint (so pink and fragrant!), Cranberry Orange, and two holiday scents: O Christmas Tree (Balsam) and Gift of the Magi (Frankincense and Myrrh). Just $5 each! Fore more info: www.sunflowerhillsoap.com.
Gorgeous acid-etched ornaments by Goose Pond of Cumberland. These 3-D stars and snowflakes are a perfect fit with the theme of this year’s Festival: Let Heaven and Nature Sing. $15 each, 24K-gold or rhodium-plated. For more info: www.goosepond.com.
A perennial favorite! Lovely holiday-themed textiles from Saco River Needleworks, including table runners (shown), throw pillows, aprons, and tree skirts. $7-$25. For more info: email@example.com.
It would be hard to find a more perfect gift for the bibliophile on your list than these adorable earrings, wine charms, bookmarks, and necklaces fashioned out of tiny hand-made books! Prices range from $6-$20. For more info: www.bookcharmsmaine.com.
And finally…not yet, but SOON…delicious candy canes and chocolate pops from Haven’s Candies of Westbrook! For more info: www.havenscandies.com.
REMEMBER: Admission to the Saco Museum is FREE from now until December 31–so pop in and celebrate the holidays with us by shopping local!
–Jessica Skwire Routhier, Museum Director
Posted on October 25th, 2011 by museum
There were just too many puns to choose from. We’re fans of fans! This is like a fantasy! We’re fanning the flames of research! “Fan”-toms of the past!
At any rate, The Saco Museum was pleased to welcome members of the Fan Association of North America (FANA) on Monday, October 24! Pictured from left to right, Linda Rousseau, Eileen Sisk, and Tina Nordstrand.
The Fan Association of North America is an organization with individual and institutional members who have an interest in the study, conservation, acquisition and identification of antique, vintage and collectible hand fans. The FANA Museum Committee’s ongoing project is to help identify museums, societies or organizations with fans in their collections. Assistance is offered, where appropriate, in identification and conservation.
During a day-long visit to the Saco Museum, FANA members photographed and catalogued 35 fans in the Saco Museum’s collection; a highlight was a dark green silk “umbrella fan” from France, dating from the late 19th century. For more information or to let FANA know about your institution’s fans, visit www.fanassociation.org.
–Jessica Skwire Routhier, Museum Director
Posted on August 23rd, 2011 by museum
It’s official: the Moving Panorama of Pilgrim’s Progress is an “American Treasure” and a “Great Work”! Here’s the article about the panorama that appears in the summer 2011 issue of Maine Arts, the magazine of the Maine Arts Commission.
In Maine Arts and elsewhere, we’re spreading the word far and wide about the exhibition, performances, lectures, and publication celebrating the panorama that will commence in June 2012. In fact, it turns out that yours truly (in a sort of last-minute Cinderella story, but that’s perhaps another blog post) will be a presenter at the International Panorama Conference in Gettysburg, PA on September 16.
So…keep your eyes on the bandwidth, and put the Saco Museum on your radar screen for the coming year. The panorama of Pilgrim’s Progress is ready to roll!
Posted on August 1st, 2011 by museum
And the sale is off and running! Couldn’t resist sharing some of the treasures I found this year, too.
Will in the World, a cultural biography of Shakesepeare by Stephen Greenblatt. I remember reading Greenblatt’s Renaissance Self-fashioning in graduate school and thinking, “Hey, I’m actually enjoying this assigned reading.” Greenblatt’s a great writer, and he knits together what little we know of Shakespeare’s life with a broader view of Elizabethan England and some of the most memorable, rich, and meaningful passages from Shakespeare’s works. I have not been able to put this down!
Diane Haeger, The Secret Wife of King George IV. In honor of this year’s royal wedding. Haven’t started it yet, but if it’s historical fiction about British royalty, I’m guessing I’ll enjoy it.
The Last Empress by Anchee Min. More historical fiction! I’m betraying my weakness. But I actually picked this up because years ago I read and loved Min’s memoir about growing up in the midst of the Chinese cultural revolution and becoming involved in Madame Mao’s film industry. I think she’s a tremendous writer and I’m interested to see what she does with China’s somewhat more distant history.
So those were for me–here’s what I found for my almost-8-year-old, also a voracious reader:
Plus about seven Box Car Children mysteries–she is in heaven.
I also continued my streak of picking up a glamorous gift for my brother’s September bithday. I can’t tell you what it is for fear that he’ll read this post–but suffice it to say that it’s a two-volume set and its subject rhymes with “set.” And that it’s one of those perfect gifts that you don’t know you want or need until you get it.
What will you find? Don’t miss your chance to find out! The sale runs through Monday, August 8, during regular library hours. I’ll be working the registers Wednesday mornign–hope to see you there!
–Jessica Routhier, Saco Museum Director
For more info: http://www.sacomuseum.org/mus_events_temp.shtml?id=EFpAVkVkFZuWFMclvr
Posted on July 28th, 2011 by museum
Can’t you feel the excitement in the air? The Dyer Library Book Sale starts on SATURDAY! I’ve been one of the many staff and volunteers who have been helping set up the sale this week, and I can tell you that there’s a HUGE selection this year. The fiction room is bursting its seams!
In honor of the sale starting this weekend, I thought I’d share with you a few of my favorite finds from previous years’ sales. I do have something of an unfair advantage, I admit–helping to set up means you get to scope out the territory a bit before the registers open. But not all of these were first-day finds–and still, they’ve become some of my own most treasured books, some of my most appreciated gifts to others (not to mention the cheapest), and some of the books I’ve recommended most.
Tom Wolfe’s hilarious send-up of modern architecture, From Bauhaus to Our House, first edition, 1981. I couldn’t believe it when I found this perfect first edition, dust jacket and all. I have since found it through booksellers online for as much as $150. Made a fantastic birthday gift for my brother, who is a huge Wolfe fan.
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I hadn’t heard a thing about this book when I saw it at the sale, just thought that a story about an English Channel Island during the German occupation sounded interesting. What a find! I’ve lent it to so many people and have since had it recommended to me as well, more than once. The story is funny and whimsical but also has its dark moments–it’s also poignant that the author herself died before the book was finished. It was completed by her devoted niece.
I’m not only an art geek from way back, but I’ve also always loved beautiful illustrations. These fantastic finds satisfied both cravings: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales illustrated by Rockwell Kent and Dante’s Divine Comedy illustrated by William Blake. Both beautiful editions, in great condition.
Margaret George, Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles. OK, I admit it–I was a fan of the rather trashy, but utterly compelling Showtime series The Tudors. This is very much in that vein–history retold as a novel, lots of bodice ripping and swordplay. I hadn’t known a whole lot about Mary Queen of Scots before reading this book and I found her story absolutely fascinating. Extensive historical notes in the back explain the historical background and where the novel speculates about what was done or said.
What will YOU find at the Dyer Library book sale? Come visit us Saturday, July 30 through Monday, August 8 to find out!
–Jessica Skwire Routhier, Saco Museum Director
Posted on May 13th, 2011 by museum
Hello, DLSM patrons and friends! We wanted to fill you in on the status of our funding through the City of Saco, and let you know what you can do to help. Do you believe that Saco needs a public library? Do you believe cities have an obligation to their citizens to support and sustain public libraries? Do you value the contribution that museums make to the cultural and economic lives of their communities? Please read all the way to the end for information on how to speak up for the DLSM as well as the power of cultural institutions in general.
At several meetings between April 25 and May 9, the Saco City Council has considered our request for increased funding, funding that is absolutely essential for us to reach a sustainable level of operation and stop draining our endowment. Only one councilor spoke strongly in our favor, and two others spoke adamantly against increased funding. One stated that he believed “it might be time to cut the library free and see what they could do on their own.” Needless to say, losing our public funding would be the end of the Dyer Library and Saco Museum. It is also shocking and saddening to know that those who are entrusted with the welfare of Saco citizens have such little respect for its cultural organizations and the free access to knowledge, information, history, and the arts that they provide.
The Dyer Library Association (which encompasses both the Dyer Library, that functions as Saco’s only public library, and the Saco Museum) is a private non-profit corporation. We have been providing library services to the citizens of Saco for 130 years, but we have never been a city department and never had any kind of contract with the city. For about the last fifty years, the city has provided some kind of financial support to the library and museum, but that amount currently covers only about 60% of our budget and has failed to keep pace with inflation and the rising consumer price index, as well as the library’s 44% increase in circulation in the last five years alone.
The Saco Museum also operates as a public institution-all Dyer Library cardholders and their guests have unlimited free admission, which means that every resident of Saco may visit the museum free of charge at any time. The Saco Museum provides invaluable services and cultural opportunities for area schoolchildren, and it also draws tourism and commercial activity to Saco’s Main Street. With the help of the Maine Arts Commission’s recent study about the economic impact of museums in Maine, we can estimate that the Saco Museum helps to generate more than $4 million in local spending each year, resulting in tax revenues of more than $200,000 for the city and the state.
We here at the DLSM try very hard to live within our means by paying staff very inadequately (compared to what the city pays its own employees, but also compared to what other libraries pay), by turning thermostats down sharply in winter, and through a long list of other cutbacks. Because we receive such inadequate funding from the city, compared to nearly all other libraries in Southern Maine, we are constantly striving to raise money to balance our budget. In addition to a twice-yearly annual fund appeal, we have three major fundraising events per year, we charge for selected programs, we run a profitable museum shop, we have donation boxes at the library and museum, and we secured more than $205,000 since September 2008 in grant funding and exhibition sponsorships. We are doing everything that we can, but it is still not enough without the support of our civic leaders.
What can you do to help? Well, if you would like the Dyer Library and Saco Museum to continue to operate without further cutbacks and without draining the endowment that is our lifeblood, you can call, e-mail, or write to the mayor and your city councilors. Tell them that Saco needs its public library and museum, and that you support an increase in funding that will allow us to balance our budget and maintain the outstanding level of services that we provide to our community. For a list of City Councilors, click here http://www.sacomaine.org/infocenter/contacts-mayorcouncil.shtml, or just cut and paste the following e-mail addresses:
The council will meet to decide the budget this Monday, May 16, so PLEASE make your voice heard before then! We depend on you, and you depend on us!
Leslie Rounds, Executive Director
Jessica Skwire Routhier, Museum Director
Posted on March 9th, 2011 by museum
March is such a perfect time of year to revel in all the colors and joy of kids’ artwork. Yes, the snow is starting to melt, and spring is in sight, but it’s still pretty cold and white out there. So this year’s RSU 23 Student Art Show (featuring work by public school kids in Dayton, Saco, and Old Orchard Beach) is like a ray of sunshine for a cold Maine spring. Plus, March is National Student Art Month, so as always it’s our honor to participate in advocating for arts education with the rest of the nation!
Warm weather and all that goes with it are definitely themes for this year’s show. Take a look at the giant, person-sized papier-mache sunflower above (there are several in the show by Piper Bolduc’s students at Loranger Middle School, Old Orchard Beach). You’ve also got to love all the bugs!
The dragonflies are the work of Joanne Matusko’s kids at Young School, Saco, and Dayton Consolidated School. The recycled art bugs–no glue was used!–are by students at Saco’s C. K. Burns School, taught by art teacher Debbie DiGregorio. Other participating schools are Governor John Fairfield School, Saco; Jameson Elementary School, Old Orchard Beach; Old Orchard Beach High School; and Saco Middle School.
Here are a few more photos to give you a sense of how fantastic this show is. It’s always fantastic–we do it every other year–but everyone so far agrees that this year is DEFINITELY the best ever. Don’t forget to visit the Dyer Library, too–this year’s show is so big and beautiful that it fills both the library and the museum!