Maine History

Monhegan museum association receives grant

Posted:  Friday, August 30, 2013 - 8:00am

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a $25,500 grant to the Monhegan Historical and Cultural Museum Association for the preservation of its collection of artwork, documents, photographs, and artifacts chronicling the unique history and culture of Monhegan Island, Maine. Specifically, this grant will enable the museum to work collaboratively with preservationists to develop a plan that addresses environmental issues that pose a threat to the long-term care and conservation of the museum’s collection.

The plan will focus on non-mechanical climate control options for the Museum’s seasonal display facilities, and the optimization of existing climate-control systems in the Museum’s off-season storage vaults, with an eye towards increased energy-efficiency and reduced energy consumption. A previous NEH Preservation Assistance Grant, awarded in 2011, enabled the museum to monitor environmental conditions and gather data that will guide the planning process.

Edward L. Deci, Director and President of the Monhegan Historical and Cultural Museum Association said, “It is extremely exciting that we have gotten this grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities because we are eager to proceed with the development of a plan to ensure the preservation of our collection in a manner that is sustainable and energy efficient, and this grant provides the means for us to know what to do, and how to do it.”

The Monhegan Museum is located in the historic Monhegan lighthouse complex, located on the top of a hill overlooking Monhegan Harbor and Muscongus Bay beyond. It is the second tallest light on the coast of Maine and has been in continuous service since its completion in 1824. When the Monhegan light was automated the light keeper’s house was vacated, and the process of obtaining the lighthouse complex for use as a museum was begun.

With tremendous community support via donations of time, objects, and money, the museum opened to the public in the summer of 1968. In 1980, the lighthouse and museum were placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum’s collections are comprised of the historic Monhegan Light Station itself; the house and studio built by Rockwell Kent; more than 1300 works of art spanning over 150 years and representing artists of the Hudson River School through Abstract Expressionism and beyond; Native American artifacts, including those from the Moorehead Phase Culture (or Red Paint People), which represent Native American presence on Monhegan over 4,000 years before the present era; artifacts, photographs, and documents describing the lobstering and fishing industries, European explorers, early settlers, tourism, shipwrecks, and historical island events; and photographs, specimens and digital exhibitions illustrating the flora and fauna of Monhegan and the surrounding waters.

This grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities supports the mission of the Monhegan Historical and Cultural Museum Association, which is to preserve and display objects of historical and cultural significance to Monhegan Island, Maine, and in so doing to provide a source of information and fascination about Monhegan Island for the benefit of island residents and visitors.