If you’re looking for a unique fusion of local history and collectibles, the Brick Store Museum is for you.
Located in Kennebunk, Maine, the nearly 80 year old museum has seen a lot of change over the years. Originally featuring a varied collection of shipbuilding tools, the museum is now home to antiques, sculptures, and even portraits of Kennebunk officials throughout history. Nowadays, the Brick Store Museum is also the best place for local collectors to show off their unique collections.
With collections containing everything from matchbooks to morse code keys, the showroom of the Brick Store Museum is as diverse as it is eclectic. Collections are donated to the museum by local residents, and due to an outpouring of support, the unique exhibits on display convey every facet of the Kennebunk community. Though the items are eventually returned to their respective owners, new collections are rotated every six months.
Each display is accompanied by a brief statement from each collector, describing the history of the items and the origins of each collection. Some like to use their items to tell stories of family history, while others keep their descriptions brief.
“I began collecting when I first bought my house,” writes Julia Birtolo, who contributed a collection of cooking items. “When I was in high school in Virginia, my mom’s mixer broke, and our next door neighbor gave us his mother’s 1950’s Sunbeam Mixmaster, which I used until the mid 1990s. My Mixmasters are my favorites in my collection, I have several now, the earliest from 1931.”
Some of the collections can be ambitious in scope, such as the display of World War II propaganda. Featuring newspaper clippings, model airplanes, and even a few books, the World War II propaganda exhibit is the largest of its kind in New England. Concise descriptions of each item are featured as well, making the display as educational as it is entertaining.
There’s a fascinating juxtaposition in seeing a collection of toy robots next to a spread of George Bush campaign pins, or vintage Kodak cameras next to fairy tale sculptures. Yet no matter the items on display, each set has one thing in common; they convey the thoughts and interests of their owners.
Take, for instance, Don Crisman’s collection of Super Bowl memorabilia. With autographed hats and footballs encased in the exhibit, it paints a clear picture of an avid football fan. Yet even more remarkable is that Crisman is a member of the “Never Miss a Super Bowl Club.” As the title indicates, membership of this exclusive club involves attending every Super Bowl since 1963. It’s a feat that only three people can claim to their name today, and knowing Crisman is among such an elite few gives the collection context.
Only a few employees officially work at the Brick Store Museum, but 75 volunteers give freely of their time to maintain the location. The museum is a popular destination for school field trips, though they host other community events as well. It’s estimated that 2000 individual pieces of art and other antiques have yet to be put on display.
The Brick Store Museum is privately owned and comparatively smaller in stature, but it’s also afforded opportunities that would be impossible in a larger complex. Every individual item is given unique prominence in the showroom, and visitors can appreciate everything there is to see and learn about anything that catches their eye. By telling stories through the collections of the Kennebunk community, the Brick Store Museum shows just how fascinating the connection between collectibles and history can be.
The Brick Store Museum’s website can be found here: http://www.brickstoremuseum.org/
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