BANGOR, Maine – The ship has arrived at the Maine Discovery Museum.
Actually, it was parts of a ship that arrived Monday at the museum.
The metal parts were assembled on the museum’s second floor Tuesday and Wednesday by crews from Cumberland Ironworks in Pownal, where they were custom-made for the museum’s coming attraction.
“TradeWinds: Connecting Maine to the World!” is set to debut in early June, Andrea Stark, the museum’s executive director, and Jennifer Chiarell, its marketing director, said Wednesday while leading a tour of the nearly $350,000 exhibit, which is nearing completion.
Though it doesn’t open for a few more weeks, it already is generating some local buzz. Designed by Brewster Buttfield of Prospect Design of Portland, it is, after all, the museum’s first new permanent exhibit since it opened seven years ago. It replaces the former “Passport” exhibit, which started coming down in late March.
The new replica cargo ship, complete with a working crane system that can be used to load and unload cargo containers, is modeled after the Alouette Arrow. The Alouette Arrow is a real ship that carries clay from the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil to Searsport, where it is unloaded and taken to a Bucksport paper mill, which uses it to brighten paper.
The museum’s ship, however, has yet to be named. Stark said the museum is hoping a sponsor will step up and contribute to the exhibit in exchange for naming rights.
The replica cargo ship is “docked” next to a wooden pier in a corner overlooking Main Street. The corner houses murals and a replica of a Brazilian river house.
Though the ship is arguably a centerpiece, the exhibit offers much more.
“TradeWinds’” other elements also focus on Maine’s connection to real-life trading partners Canada, Japan, Italy and Brazil.
According to an overview of the new exhibit, museum staff and supporters hope that by exploring topics and stories related to trade, children will discover that:
- Geography, commerce, communication and transportation are interesting and fun to learn about.
- A global economy offers exciting new opportunities.
- Stewardship of the world’s natural resources is a shared responsibility.
- They should respect others’ customs and cultures.
Trade with Canada is the focus of one of the first displays visitors will see when they enter the “TradeWinds” area. The display will include a scaled-down delivery truck.
Nearby is a display that will put Japanese culture — traditional and contemporary — into the education spotlight, with such activities as creating Japanese calligraphy. It leads into the exhibit’s “Trade Routes” section. A “Wheel of Fortune”-style wheel is being installed.
There, children can match images of familiar products on the wheel with their countries of origin. They also will be able to check out and measure the arching routes between Maine and some of the countries with which it trades.
The “World Diner” area, a popular part of the former “Passport” exhibit, will be succeeded by a similar restaurant, this one an Italian trattoria tentatively called “Pasta, Presto!” that Stark says translates roughly to “speedy noodles.” Inside the eatery, which will include a pizza oven and gelato station, children can continue to make and serve up make-believe meals, some of them featuring Maine seafood.
Stark said the museum is seeking a Vespa scooter to prop against the restaurant’s outer wall. The scooter need not be in working order because it would only be used to help lend to the Italian atmosphere.
The bulk of the funding for “TradeWinds” was provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Hope and Jay Benton, the Davis Family Foundation, the Lucia B. Fulton Foundation and the Cole Family Foundation, but additional funds would be welcome.
For information about additional sponsorship opportunities for “TradeWinds,” contact Stark or Chiarell at 262-7200.
Information about the museum, its exhibits and programs is available at www.mainediscoverymuseum.org.