The Matthews Museum of Maine Heritage. The way Maine Was.
Open July - August   Wednesday - Saturday:  12:00 noon until 4:00 pm. except holidays.
Extended opening hours during Union Fair; free admission for fair ticket holders

The Collection

Referred to as "the area's best-kept secret", the Matthews Museum of Maine Heritage has been acclaimed as one of New England's finest museums. This excellent museum has something for people of all ages; to wonder and learn about lifestyles in the 18th century.  The Museum houses over 10,000 artifacts, including carriages, agricultural tools, musical instruments, books, collections of photo prints and a research library. It also houses a sizeable collection of Moxie memorabilia, occupying, among other things, the new annex, at the west end of the museum.

The Matthews Museum of Maine Heritage collection.Interior space is sectioned into booths displaying artifacts having similar uses. Accented by background of weathered board walls, an 18th century Blacksmith Shop, Cobbler shop, Country Kitchen, and library are displayed as they may have been 100 years ago. Cooper shop, Spinning wheels, , a folding, tin bath tub (complete with heater unit), cradles, sleighs, sleds (a twelve-foot long sled used at Union in winter taking six or more riders down the hill across the common to Depot Street and on to the cemetery), carts, wagons. carriages, a horse-drawn hearse, clothes, film-making equipment, rope beds, stoves, an organ (played regularly during Union Fair and on special occasions), jewelry, and dolls are only a few items that take the viewer back in time.

The original 900-piece collection was purchased from Union native, Edwards A. Matthews in the early 1960s (in the picture Matthews is examining one of the many artifacts purchased in 1964.. It included antique tools, vehicles and kitchen utensils dating back more than 100 years. Included is a Cameragraph, a 35 mm silent motion picture film projector which was first operated at the old Union Town Hall. Included are many more innovative, homemade inventions which lend credence to the term "Yankee ingenuity". Since that time additional items have been loaned or donated, creating a well-rounded collection of over 10,000 artifacts relevant to colonial Maine.

One special section holds Moxie memorabilia honoring the Union man Dr. Augustine Thompson, who, in 1876, invented the one-time patent medicine, Moxie Nerve Food, which is now sold as a soft drink.

With farm wagons, sleds and a variety of horse-drawn vehicles, the carriage barn features the one-horse shay one of only two in existence - the second being displayed at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. DC. Both carriages, stenciled by a native Union man, were built in 1850 by Collins, Wingate, Little & Co. The firm later became known as Wingate & Simmons Carriage Shop, Union, Maine.
Adjacent to the Museum is the Hodge School, a one- room schoolhouse in its original structure and interior decor. The school operated from 1864 to 1954.

The Matthews Museum of Maine Heritage collection.In 2011, MMoMH completed the construction of the new "Carriage House" on the north side of the museum. The old structure succumbed to multiple severe weather exposures, resulting in complete destruction of the building. Friends and members of MMoMH undertook the task of building a new structure from scratch in the place the old one stood. With a lot of hard work, and a lot of donations, the new Carriage House was erected and completed before the 2011 Union Fair. The carriages were moved to a nearby building while the construction was in progress, giving us the opportunity to offer some TLC to the old exhibits.

The new Carriage House is compliant to handicapped requirements and is on the same level of the museum, unlike the old one which was 5 steps lower. In addition, the new building has excellent ventilation and wide-door access to the largest carriage.
The Carriage House at the Matthiews Museum of Maine Heritage in Union, Maine.
We have many new exhibits on display this year. If you haven't visited the museum lately, make sure you do so this year. You will be pleasantly surprised.

The Hodge one-room school house has lifted and the foundation was repaired. New electrical circuits and a new door replaced the old ones. A new soda fountain was installed in the Moxie annex. A governors desk was installed in the "Barber Shop". There are many other new exhibits too many to list here.

All these innovations cannot happen without considerable expense. We were fortunate to have many friends who appreciate or efforts and help us in our endeavors. Nevertheless, we are always in need of more money. Please consider a membership to the museum and or a donation to our cause.

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