The John Perkins House on the left sits neatly next to the Wilson Museum. They are two of the four buildings preserved as part of local history.
Children and adults can enjoy front row seats while watching the art of forging metal.
Using the original 19th century brick oven in the Perkins House, staff members share foods cooked in the kitchen using tools of the time.
CASTINE—Be prepared for a tour through time and cultures as you enter the Wilson Museum complex, a series of buildings begun in 1921 by geologist and anthropologist J. Howard Wilson to house collections gathered around the world and close to home. Here you will see rocks and fossils from the earliest geologic times and will follow humankind’s advances in tool-making from pre-history through Castine’s rich local history. After wending your way across continents and among indigenous cultures viewing displays from Africa, the Americas and Bali, to name just a few, view an exhibit in the main hall about Dr. Wilson whose vision and passion made this world-class collection possible.
In the John Perkins House, step back in time to colonial Castine, once claimed by four nations, to meet the Perkins family. As one of the town’s earliest settlers and businessmen, John Perkins experienced all the trials and tribulations of those tumultuous times and flourished, building wharves, vessels and additions to his home. A tour of this home is guided by a knowledgeable docent. If you are lucky enough to be here on select Wednesdays and Sundays in July and August, you may even have the opportunity to sample food cooked over the open hearth in the kitchen. Visitors will be fascinated to learn that this home was moved to its present location in the late 1960s. Construction methods and artifacts help to show the evolution of the building.
A step back in time would not be complete without a visit to the woodturner in the Education Center and the blacksmith in the Blacksmith Shop. On Wednesdays and Sundays in July and August these two craftsmen will demonstrate the tools and techniques of their trades. The blacksmith may even allow you to pump the bellows for the forge’s fire while he makes a hook or horseshoe. Once you’ve seen what fire can create, take a peek into the Pump House Display to learn about Castine’s early firefighting history. Push the button and watch in wonder as the gears and levers make the alarm bell ring!
The seasonal series Revolution Downeast kicks off with an exhibit entitled “Salvaging the Past: 1779 and the Privateer Defence” about the underwater excavation of a scuttled vessel from the 1779 Penobscot Expedition and then continues with lectures and even an encampment of military re-enactors. Countdown to the Sculpture will highlight the progress to ultimate installation of Castine’s Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium sculpture in September. Look for programs related to these themes as well as other special events throughout the season on the Museum’s user-friendly web site, www.wilsonmuseum.org or call for information, 207-326-9247. Classes and group tours by appointment are welcome.
The Wilson Museum, at 120 Perkins Street, is open daily May 27 to September 30, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays; admission is free. John Perkins House and Blacksmith Shop are open 2 to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays and Sundays in July and August. John Perkins House tours (on the hour) are $5 per person.