Bringing out the Birds, and Other Treasures from the Community’s Attic


May 2003 – December 2004

The exhibition derived its title from the array of birds collected by Kennebunk architect/antiquarian/historian William Barry as study specimens; they had been packed away for years.  However, with this exhibition, the song birds, shore birds, and a large snowy owl were back by popular demand, along with a variety of additional artifacts to familiarize visitors with a broad cross section of the Museum’s holdings.  Items were selected for their visual and historical appeal.  There were numerous pieces of antique furniture, including sideboards, clocks, and chairs of every period and description.  A remarkable parade of portraits looked down on the galleries begging introduction as leading personages from the past.

The museum is fortunate to own paintings by some of the leading artists of the nineteenth century.  One of the most intriguing represented in the exhibition was by John Brewster, Jr., a deaf mute from nearby Buxton, Maine.  Brewster overcame extraordinary disabilities to attain prominence in his lifetime.  His paintings are owned by major American museums.  Other noteworthy artists represented in the exhibition were Thomas Badger, Walter Ingalls, Hannah Skeele, Abbott Fuller Graves, and Louis D. Norton. 

The exhibit had much to interest young people as well as adults, notably a rocking horse that delighted generations of Lord children, and a china-headed doll named Gertrude Alice, who was given to the Museum along with her trunk of clothing and doll furniture.  Youngsters were intrigued to see the musket ball that was removed from the cheek of a Civil War soldier–and the photograph to prove it! Perhaps the most impressive item in the exhibition was the giant ear of corn weathervane from Kennebunk’s First Parish Unitarian Church, where it graced the steeple for two hundred years.  There was also an eagle weathervane, a donation from the owners of The Captain Lord Mansion in Kennebunkport.

People who love maps found several early ones of Kennebunk and Kennebunk Beach.  There was also fire equipment on display from the old Safeguard Company Number 2.  Political buffs took note of Hugh McCulloch’s desk from the United States Senate where he served a term before becoming Secretary of the Treasury under President Lincoln.