VISITING BELFAST AREA HIGH SCHOOL
The third day of our stay at Mike’s was devoted to visiting Belfast Area School where we met some familiar men who help Mike in running his program “Global classroom’. I was very pleased to see the pictures of my students and me on the walls of his classroom.
VISITING AUGUSTA, THE CAPITAL OF STATE MAINE.
Visiting Maine State museum in Augusta, the capital of the State Maine was another great event. If you look at the map of state Maine you’ll feel as if you were not in America but somewhere in England as the names of the settlements are those the settlers had in their home before migration into the New World. That is why the whole territory was previously called New England. We decided to go to the local museum to get some notion how people lived there after their migration.
But just at the very entrance to the museum a small monument to a girl attracted my attention. When I read who this monument had been ercted to I felt ashamed not only for myself but for my country who completely forgot the name and what this little girl did during General Secretary Andropov’s ruling the country. It was the monument to Samantha Smith who at the beginning of the 80-th wrote the following letter to Yuri Andropov:
Dear Mr. Andropov,
My name is Samantha Smith. I am ten years old. Congratulations on your new job. I have been worrying about Russia and the United States getting into a nuclear war. Are you going to vote to have a war or not? If you aren't please tell me how you are going to help to not have a war. This question you do not have to answer, but I would like to know why you want to conquer the world or at least our country. God made the world for us to live together in peace and not to fight.
Sincerely, Samantha Smith
Grade school student, peace activist 1972-1985
If we could be friends by just getting to know each other better, then what are our countries really arguing about? Nothing could be more important than not having a war if a war could kill everything.
From about 1950 to 1989 the United States went through a period in relation to the Soviet Union (Russia) that was called the Cold War. Neither side fired a shot ( a hot war ), but continued to build more and more nuclear weapons, each side escalating the number and size of the weapons in response to the perceived threat from the other. Hundreds of millions of people in both countries lived in fear that either by aggression or accident a war would start and everything would be annihilated. Perhaps, the whole world destroyed.
In 1982 Samantha Smith was a frightened 10 year old girl in the small community of Manchester, Maine. One day she asked her mother, Jane, if she would write Yuri Andropov, the Premier of the Soviet Union, and ask him whether the Soviet Union intended to start a war. Samantha’s mother answered, “Why don’t you.” Samantha did, and Premier Andropov wrote her back inviting her to come to the Soviet Union to meet Russian people and see that they were peace loving with no desire to start a war,.Samantha’s trip to the Soviet Union was a great success. She made lasting friendships with Russian children. She was so inspired her that she became an international spokesperson for peace, traveling as far as Japan to talk with people about the necessity for stopping the Cold War and finding a way to live together. The stakes were too high not to find a way to peace.
Tragically, at the age of 13, Samantha was killed along with her father in a plane crash when returning to Maine from a peace mission. A life-sized bronze statue of her stands outside the State House in Augusta, Maine. The statue features Samantha’s warm smile as she reaches out releasing a dove of peace. Samantha made a huge difference in the way Russians and Americans thought about the Cold War, the humanity of each other, and the possibility of peace.
VISITING BELFAST STATE MUSEUM
120 years to demonstrate that consistent support and proper facilities are vital for success.
After the District of Maine separated from Massachusetts in 1820 and settled in the new capital of Augusta, the state's government began to explore its newly independent domain more aggressively. But finding things is much easier than preserving and interpreting what has been found.
In 1836 the Maine State Legislature voted funds for a "cabinet or museum of mineral specimens…at the State House in Augusta." Boston geologist Dr. Charles T. Jackson, who conducted the first Geological Survey of Maine, selected specimens of his discoveries for display in 1837. This first exhibit included 1,566 cataloged rocks and minerals in specially made cabinets. Unfortunately, as a legislative report lamented, "There was no one to see to their preservation and no one capable or interested enough to give them study. As a consequence they all went to ruin and disappeared."
A Second Geological Survey was conducted in 1861. A "typical set" of specimens was again displayed in the State House, and for the second time it was neglected and the catalogs lost. The disgusted State Legislature of 1888-89 ordered the transfer of the surviving specimens from the State House basement to Colby University (now Colby College) in Waterville as a long-term loan. The second attempt to form a state museum had failed.
Fish, Game, and Education
A 1912 article in the Lewiston Journal begins: "How many of our readers realize that our state is fast accumulating one of the finest museums and natural history collections to be found in New England?" It goes on to tell how in 1898, an Inland Fisheries and Game employee conceived the idea of making a systematic collection of mounted animals representing the fauna of Maine. Basement level rooms in the State House were obtained when he expanded the collection. The annual bureau report for 1900 estimated that 10,000 visitors had come to see the nearly 200 identified fish, birds, and animals. Also listed was "1 chair made of deer horns," which is still in the museum's collection today.
The 1910-1911 expansion of the State House provided new space. The Inland Fisheries and Game Commission brought the mineral collection back to the State House from Colby University. A huge oak display case, which had previously housed the state's battle flags, was cut down and fitted with electric lights. Stretching across one whole side of the new museum room, this case displayed the reclaimed mineral collection. In addition to natural history specimens, the museum also exhibited a Revolutionary War fife, a South Sea island war club, a shoe worn aboard the MAYFLOWER, Eskimo clothing, and Japanese goods. The curator's report for 1916 states, "More attention is being given to the educational function of the museum than to making a display of miscellaneous curios." Eight tanks of live fresh water fish were introduced that year.
The museum was given to the new Department of Education when it was created in 1931. The live fish were still on display in 1937, along with "military relics and historic curios," when the Federal Writer's Project compiled a book describing the attractions of Maine. While the museum survived both world wars, records indicate that operations were suspended due to overcrowded State House conditions in 1945 and the stat Klir Beck and Exhibit Technology
Due to "increased public interest", however, the Legislature revived the museum under the Department of Economic Development in 1957. Klir A. Beck, a multi-talented painter, sculptor, and taxidermist, was made curator. Beck was very well known for his many years promoting Maine's outdoor attractions at hunting and fishing shows in major East Coast cities. He won first prize at the 1939 Worlds Fair in New York for his "State of Maine" exhibit. He brought his skills and ingenuity, and a new level of entertainment to his museum work. Among his first major projects were four state-of-the-art wildlife habitat groups in lifelike dioramas.
The museum and its curator were transferred to the State Park and Recreation Commission in 1963. Klir Beck died three years later and the Legislature dedicated the wildlife dioramas as a permanent memorial to his artistry and success in promoting public interest in Maine's natural environment.
PROFESSIONAL MUSEUM ESTABLISHED
Due largely to Beck's success, and a growing appreciation of American history in general, change was in the air. The modern museum began with a Legislative Museum Study Committee formed in 1965 which helped guide the passage of a referendum for construction of a new home for the Maine State Museum, the Maine State Library, and the Maine State Archives. The initial plan called for the museum to become an educational and research institution which would develop well documented artifact collections, and fill the building with exhibitions and programs over a twenty-year period.
Perhaps more important than the new building was the museum's new status as a semi-independent state agency. This was intended to end the damaging practice of passing the museum from one large state department to another. A fifteen member governing body, the Maine State Museum Commission, was established in 1966.
The Maine State Cultural Building opened beside the State House in 1971. The new museum had a busy staff with offices, workshops, an artifact conservation lab, and an archaeology research program. Temporary exhibits and a small gift shop were in place.
Education programs began with the new school year and work started on the first major exhibits.
One year after the building opened, the museum lost its new found independence when a major reorganization of state government took place. The Maine State Museum was returned to the renamed Department of Education and Cultural Services. This arrangement lasted 18 years before the Museum Commission regained its semi-independent status.
Success in state government frequently brings added responsibility. The State House collections of political portraits, furnishings and memorial wall plaques were assigned to museum care in 1971. The Adjutant General's office transferred the state's military flag collection and Hall of Flags display cases to the museum. The scientific archaeology program led to legislation in the 1980s assigning the museum to hold title to artifacts and specimens found on, in or beneath state-controlled lands and waters for the benefit of the people of Maine. A governor also ordered the museum to take over curation of historic art, furnishings and Blaine family artifacts in the governor's residence, the Blaine House.
The current staff of fourteen full and eleven part-time people is assisted by a strong contingent of generous volunteers. Together the staff and volunteers have maintained professional accreditation and continue to upgrade all aspects of the museum. Four floors of exhibits, many educational programs, and thousands of collections items from Maine's history, pre-history, and environment make the museum a popular destination for visitors, as well as a place of pride for Maine people.
LEAVING “NEW ENGLAND”
It was a very sad day because we had to say Good bye to Debby and Mike and fly to Washington DC, When they brought us to Portland they took us to the shore of the Atlantic ocean to show us the fort which was built there to protect the American coat from the German submarines. We had our lunch there and were taken to the bus station to take the bus to Boston which had to deliver us to the airport.