The new Hudson Museum, located on the Collins Center’s 2nd Level, features three exhibition areas: the Merritt Gallery for temporary exhibitions and two permanent exhibits including a World Cultures and Maine Indian Gallery. In conjunction with the exhibit areas is an area for interactive activities, the Minsky Culture Lab. The new galleries allow the exhibition of objects that could not be displayed in the old Museum, and feature new interactive media and hands-on materials to explore.
World Cultures Gallery
Previous exhibitions of the Hudson Museum’s culturally diverse collections centered on presenting one culture area per exhibit. The Museum’s collections are extraordinarily rich, but are not comprehensive. To use our collections to their best advantage, the new World Cultures Gallery—the centerpiece of the Museum’s exhibitions—presents the richness and breadth of the Museum’s holdings. It features objects that have never been on public exhibition, and allows the Museum to exhibit a greater percentage of its holdings.
The gallery consists of eight large-scale display units, including one devoted exclusively to the William P. Palmer Collection III collection of Precolumbian artifacts. Each exhibit case focuses on a specific cultural theme universal to people around the world. Visitors will be able to compare and contrast how people from a variety of cultures are similar and how they are different; how they solve basic issues; and how their environment affects their solutions.
Themes featured in the gallery include ritual and belief, status and power, home and family, transportation, adornment, foodways, and objects made for others. For example, a case devoted to status and power displays Northwest Coast Chilkat robes and tunics; African stools, staffs, and ancestor figures; a Phase III Navajo Chief’s blanket and Southwestern jewelry; and Precolumbian pottery figurines of nobles, rulers and the elite.
The Maine Indian Gallery
The Native people of Maine have legends that tell of how the Creator made a being, Gluskabe. Gluskabe made the people and taught them how to respect and use the natural resources of their world, especially the trees and plants. He showed them how to make baskets, birchbark containers and canoes, and how to carve. Among the Hudson Museum’s holdings are over 500 examples of the material culture of Maine’s Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot peoples and hundreds of historic images. This assemblage includes brown ash splint and sweet grass basketry dating from 1850 to the present along with an important collection of basketmaking tools and molds, birchbark containers and implements, rootclubs, crooked knives, snowshoes, beadwork, and three full-size canoes. These objects, and collections on loan from other Museums in New England, are presented in this new exhibit, together with audio and video footage of fourteen contemporary Maine Indian artists who are masters of their traditions. The film footage documents how raw materials are gathered, processed and prepared, and how each of the artforms is made. These film segments are available to explore in two Native Voices kiosks.
Across from the presentation of Maine Indian material culture, UMaine researchers will present their research and collections. These collections have rarely been exhibited to the public and until now have been used almost exclusively for research. This portion of the exhibit includes artifacts gathered by UMaine archaeological projects and housed in the collections of the Anthropology Department. Points, scrapers, adzes, awls, or potsherds from a wide variety of archaeological sites may be found as well as evidence of the Ice Age in Maine. In addition to the archaeological collection, a time lapse presentation will be created, which will show the glaciation of Maine during the ice age, the receding of glaciers and the appearance of land, the types of vegetation and animal life that developed in the state, the changing of plant and animal species over time, and the peopling of Maine. This segment will also draw on research of the Climate Change Institute to assess the impact of these changes on our state. The multimedia segment will show not only Maine’s past, but how climate change will shape Maine 500 years from now.
Now Open in the Minsky Culture Lab
Jane Gruver, the Mola Lady, collected these molas between 1964 and the present to document the tradition and its evolution. Jane had a keen eye for selecting works that were well executed and artistic, but also documented the world of the Kuna and their traditions. From her most recent donation of molas, twenty-four have been chosen for this exhibition.
Molas are reverse applique panels made in pairs for the front and back of women’s blouses. Several layers of cloth are stacked together and the design is made by cutting through the different layers of fabric to expose the desired color. Once the specific shape is achieved, the area is stitched around. Sometimes embroidery and applique are also used to add detail.
When Kuna women get tired of their mola blouse, they make a new panels with designs that suit their fancy. Their “old” blouse is taken apart and the mola panels end up as art. Some are acquired by passengers of cruise ships; others are sold in Panama City or tourist spots in the region. What makes Jane‘s collection unique is that she knew many of the women who made these molas and the “hidden” meaning of the designs–which is not typical for most molas.
To learn more about molas visit this link to see view books on the University of Maine’s Digital Commons: http://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/molas/
Openin the Hutchinson Center in Belfast
Incidents of Travel in Latin America: An Archaeologist’s Images
Dan Sandweiss has travelled annually in Latin America since 1977 to carry out archaeological projects. This exhibit offers images from his collection of life along those roads, in Guatemala, Honduras, Cuba, Peru, and Chile. Sandweiss has been a member of the UMaine faculty since 1993 and is currently serving as Dean and Associate Provost for Graduate Studies.
Image Description: Merritt Gallery
Image Description: World Cultures Gallery
Image Description: Maine Indian Gallery
Image Description: Peru Jungle 1980-Jungle Dan