The idea of going behind the scenes at a museum, of strolling through the darkened exhibit halls and cramped storage rooms when no one else is around, is incredibly intriguing to lots of people.
So many in fact, that the idea has spawned three blockbuster movies in the “Night at the Museum,” series, starring Ben Stiller. But this Saturday the star will be the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk, hosting its imaginative “Night at Our Museum” event.
Patrons will be lead on a tour of the three main storage rooms – including one packed with 700 articles of period clothing on racks, and another filled with sleighs, wagons, and other 19th century modes of conveyance. Visitors will get to see a lot more of the museum’s 70,000 items than the 5 percent usually displayed in the exhibit halls in a typical year.
The museum was founded in 1936, by Edith Barry, whose family was one of many in Kennebunk that became wealthy from ships and ship building. The collection focuses on town and southern Maine history.
The idea for the “Night at Our Museum” event came from the museum’s staff, said Cynthia Walker, the museum director.
“We just thought it would be nice to let people come and explore what the staff gets to see every day,” Walker said.
Here then is a look at just some of the hidden treasures one will see during the “Night at Our Museum.”
TELEPHONE AND TYPEWRITER COLLECTION – These pieces include typewriters and telephones from area homes, spanning the years 1900 to 1990. For most of us the startling thing here is see a rotary phone, the phone standard just a few decades ago, turned into a museum piece. Literally. Photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
LORD LADY’S DRESS – A two-piece brown, winter-weight dress, circa 1905, from the family of William Lord, an early shipping merchant and one of the richest men in town by the 1870s. He also built the brick building that now houses part of the museum. The dress was probably an everyday garment, though the buttons, collar, and other details seem pretty ornate by today’s standards.Photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
PORTRAIT OF A CHILD – This is a circa 1880 portrait of Edward Emerson Bourne, Jr., when he was a boy. He grew up to be a judge, like his father. A local actor will portray Bourne during the event to make his painting “come to life.” Cue the spooky music. Photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
ROCKING HORSE – Not exactly cute or cuddly, this 1840s rocking horse is about four feet tall at the head, has glass eyes, horse-hair stuffing, and a genuine leather hide. It was owned by William Barry, the uncle of museum founder Edith Barry. Photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
THE CIRCUS DRESS – That’s what museum staffers call this skirt and blouse set, circa 1890. The top looks a little like a ringmaster’s tuxedo, the green and light pink color scheme are festive and circus-like. It’s a good example of how historic items don’t always fit our image of what they should look like. Photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
SAD PICTURE – This painting of Lizzie Bourne, the cousin of the man in the other portrait, was done after her sad death on Mt. Washington, in New Hampshire, in the 1880s. She had hiked the mountain with her cousin and uncle on a stormy, foggy day. They were trying to reach safe lodging at the summit’s Tip Top House, but couldn’t see it and instead spent the night in a shelter built of rocks. When the fog lifted, in the morning, they found they were mere feet from the Tip Top House. They also found Lizzie Bourne, who was said to have a weak heart, had died. Photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
CIVIL WAR RIFLES AND SWORDS – With about 20 rifles and ten swords, this is a favorite area for school groups. One very interesting rifle, or musket, was found by town resident John Clement Lord, a Union soldier, just after the battle for Fort Fisher, in North Carolina. It was likely a Confederate weapon, which Lord took as a memento of his time at the battle. Photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
WHEN: 5-8 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Brick Store Museum, 117 Main St., Kennebunk
HOW MUCH: $20; $40 per family