The Star-Herald

Challenge yourself this summer

According to the May 9, 2019, Washington Post, the continental US has just experienced the wettest 12-month period in recorded history — and this summer seems to be a continuance of that trend.   In addition, according to a new Bankrate survey, 1 in 4 Americans have decided not to go out of town for vacation this year with another 22 percent undecided.

So, what can we do on those rainy days this summer or for something new?  Those of you who know me know that I am just a bit prejudiced here, but why not visit a local museum?  In fact, friends and acquaintances think it odd that my idea of a vacation is to visit as many museums as possible in a week.  On June 23, for instance, I visited five museums in one day.

The Portland Press Herald reported in 2014 that Maine has the second highest rate of museums per capita.  There are more than 25 museums in Aroostook County with six in Presque Isle alone.  

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) categorizes museums by topic as follows:

– Arboretums, botanical gardens, and nature centers;

– Historical societies and history museums;

– Science and technology museums;

– Planetariums;

– Children’s museums;

– Art museums;

– General museums (those that have collections in more than one subject);

– Natural history and natural science;

– And zoos, aquariums, and wildlife preserves/refuges.

IMLS also tells us that, by far, historical societies and history museums (48 percent) make up the largest number of the 35,144 museums in the United States.  

Why visit a museum?  Museums make you feel good, make you smarter, are a fun way to learn, inspire us, bring change and development to communities, and are a great way to spend time with friends and family.  In addition, museums foster deeper understanding of specific topics, teach critical thinking and empathy, and showcase local culture, heritage and history.  

There’s one just around the corner here in Aroostook County from the Blockhouse in Fort Kent to the Francis Malcolm Science Center in Easton or the Logging Museum in Ashland to the Aroostook Historical and Art Museum in Houlton, just to name a few.  

Here in Presque Isle, you can visit the Aroostook Band of Micmacs Museum, The James School, the Presque Isle Air Museum, the Northern Maine Museum of Science, the 1875 Vera Estey House Museum and the Maysville Museum.  Many of these are free.  

So, the next time you are looking for a fun, entertaining, and educational family-oriented activity, visit a local museum.  Why not make it a challenge to see how many in Aroostook County you can visit this summer?

Kimberly Smith is the resource development and public information officer for the city of Presque Isle. She can be reached at 760-2722 or via email at

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