News October 2016

Published on Oct 13, 2016


Director | Curator | Store
Events | Science | Support

From the Director’s Desk—Museum Storytelling

By Barbra Barrett, MMGM Director


At the Museum and More…

MMGM Tours & Talks
October 20, 2016 • 3:00 – 4:30 pm
Talk: Introduction to the Rock Cycle with Myles Felch, Assistant Curator

MMGM Tours & Talks
November 17, 2016 • 3:00 – 4:30 pm
Talk: Basic Mineralogy with Al Falster, MMGM Scientist

MMGM Tours & Talks
December 15, 2016 • 3:00 – 4:30 pm
Talk: Mineral ID – Please bring one mineral for identification by MMGM Staff

Barbra's photoHow many of us remember the museum experiences of our childhood?  For some of us, and depending on our age, those memories likely evoke visions of glass cabinets filled with object after object with weathered labels and placards that visitors relied on to tell a story.  As storytellers, museums must constantly evolve through time, and thus, must incorporate appropriate current and available media to tell stories that are meaningful and emotionally engaging to audiences.  Digital storytelling will be integrated throughout MMGM.

To realize this vision and to fully consider visitor experience, we explored how to do this and, more importantly, who we could bring to our team to accomplish this broad goal.  Having already determined that we wanted to “people” our exhibits by having the story we hope to convey to our visitors—told by the subjects themselves, we launched an extensive oral history project.  We all realized that in order to achieve the desired quality we needed someone with more expertise.

Jennifer Smith with Frank Perham

Jennifer Smith with Frank Perham

We hit a home run with Jennifer Widor Smith, of The Story Board, who has been working with us for the last 2 years. Jen is a filmmaker based in Brunswick and has worked extensively in both narrative and documentary film for nearly two decades. Her experience ranges from filming U.S. Presidents on the coast of Maine to working on sets with mountain lions in the canyons of Los Angeles. Her undergraduate degree in psychology naturally lead to her interest in documentary-style filmmaking as well as narratives exploring human nature. Recent work includes editing on “The Peloton Project”, a documentary film by director Ramsey Tripp and executive producer Patrick Dempsey.

Behind the scene at Frank Perham’s.

Behind the scene at Frank Perham’s.

Jen sits on the board of the Emerge Film Festival, and served as managing director for the organization’s 2016 event. Prior to co-founding The Story Board, Jen owned Moving Circle Pictures, a commercial production company. She recently participated in the IFP Film Market in New York City, where she had the opportunity to meet with investors for a new feature film she is producing, by award-winning director Derek Kimball, entitled A Winter Table.

Filming a period piece at the Havey Mine.

Filming a period piece at the Havey Mine.

Through Jen’s filming experience, MMGM’s oral history project has taken on a life of its own.  Jen’s ease and comfort with all those who participated resulted in mini-documentaries that are each so individually poignant.  Pieces of those histories will effectively be incorporated throughout all our exhibits, allowing visitors to navigate a curated story narrated by the many people who have participated in the project.  It will truly be unique to a Mineral Museum!

Some of these oral histories naturally evolved into bigger and greater projects. The projects ranged from filming period pieces at regional mines to creating time-lapsed films of lapidary projects and creating short films based on the subjects. One of these short documentaries, It’s The Story, Not The Stuff, is about Frank Perham, a long-time cornerstone of the Maine mining community.

Jen spent over a week at Frank’s West Paris home, filming stories about his life as a Maine mineral collector.  She was able to capture Frank’s captivating stories and distill them into a short, five-minute film that captures the essence of Frank and his lively storytelling skills. The final cut of It’s the Story, Not the Stuff was just submitted to the Maine Short Film Festival.

Winners of the Festival will be announced on November 1st.  For all those who are interested in viewing a short teaser of the film, simply visit Story Board’s website at

All of us here at MMGM wish Jen the best of luck in the festival and look forward to her continued and inspiring involvement with ongoing and future projects.  The stories told at MMGM will be a living, breathing part of our museum because of Jen’s many contributions.  Good luck, Jen!


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Collections—Life as a Collections Intern

By Sam Portnoy

samFrom my first to last days on the job, I remained extremely grateful for my internship at the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum. As a student studying both Geology and Studio Art, this position couldn’t have been a better fit for me.

Within my first week, Myles and Fred brought me out into the field to Somerset County, where we collected rhyolite samples and hiked to some of the best views I’ve ever seen in Maine. This was such a neat experience for me as I had never done field work outside of school before, so to get the opportunity to do so in a professional setting taught me a lot. The museum’s Third Thursday Talk series was also an aspect of my internship that I was lucky enough to experience. It really inspired me and added to my knowledge base.

Along with cataloging and photographing numerous specimens, I was able to curate an exhibit for the Greenwood Bicentennial that went on display in the Preview Gallery. This was one of my favorite parts of the summer because it blended my love for design with my passion for geology. The exposure to the museum’s collection of such magnificent pieces from around the world was truly a phenomenal way to familiarize myself with specimens that I would not normally come across. The curation process is one that intrigued me and it was a pleasure to learn so much about it from Carl and Myles. The opportunity to create the display design was icing on the cake.

Toward the end of the summer, I got the chance to get down into the lab and work with Al. Being the wonderful educator that he is, Al allowed me to take part in a project that he knew would be of interest to me and would teach me so much. We worked with feldspar samples, analyzing them in order to better understand pegmatites and relate them to paleogeologic environments. With this project I was able to go into the field to Maine’s famous Havey Quarry—an experience any geology student would love to have. I also had a ton of hands-on experience with the technology in the lab. Working alongside Al proved to be one of the most valuable takeaways from my summer.

Like many other young adults, my college internship was the first taste of a real-world job. It was pretty intimidating at first to become a part of the museum’s community that is home to so many brilliant and experienced individuals, but I quickly realized that I was being welcomed with open arms. My colleagues were constantly willing to share their knowledge, which allowed me to come away from this experience with way more than I ever could have imagined. From learning new software, such as Orbitvu and Mineral Desk, to learning new field skills, my time here has been so rewarding. Thank you for an unforgettable experience!

Events—Fryeburg Fair and Talks

By Annemarie Saunders, MMGM Staff

Annemarie 2016-ccfryeburg-fair-2016The Fryeburg Fair has come and gone, with the help of the Saco Valley Mineral Club, MMGM once again had a week long display in the Natural Resources Building at the Fair.  The Club has been very generous to give us space and represent us for the week.  Thank you Dick Dennison and the club for always including us!

This month’s Third Thursday Talk will feature Myles Felch our Assistant Curator. His topic will be Introduction to the Rock Cycle.  This is part one of a three part basic series on mineral and identification.  This a great series for those wanting to know a little more or just brush up on the basics.  This series will conclude in December with mineral identification.  You can bring one sample for our staff to help you identify. Please join us on Thursday, October 20 from 3:00 – 4:30 in the Odd Fellows building.

Treasures—Make it your own!

By Maggie Kroenke, MMGM Staff

Maggiecustom-jewelry3_2d_0001The Maine Mineral and Gem Museum store works with more than 10 different artists, allowing us the luxury of showcasing a variety of styles, techniques, and artistic voices. If you’re shopping for a special occasion and find a piece you think will work, but perhaps the featured gemstone isn’t the right color or type; maybe there are too many accent stones (or not enough); or you truly want a “designed for you” piece—we can help to find or create just what you’re looking for!

Custom jewelry is often thought of for engagements or weddings, but jewelry can be specially made for a variety of events. Graduations, birthdays, and anniversaries are just a sample. A few weeks ago, a customer requested a custom piece to be made for her daughter (pictured). She had previously visited the store and was drawn to the work and style of one of our artists, Brian Quigley. Working together, she and I picked a gemstone from our inventory (a 1.15 ct. tourmaline from the Havey Mine, in Poland), and used a pre-existing piece of Brian’s jewelry as a template for the basic design of the pendant. Using the gemstone and gold provided by the customer from sentimental pieces of jewelry, Brian was able to create a beautiful pendant just for her.

Our unset inventory of Maine gemstones gives customers the ability to choose a local stone that reflects their personality, style, and budget. Our jewelers can work in a variety of metals—from sterling silver to high karat gold to contemporary metals like palladium. Appointments are recommended for design consultations and gemstone viewings; and please stop by the store any time to view the work of our artists. They are: Darlene Armstrong, Maggie Bokor (coming soon), Carrabassett Valley Jewelry, Kavi Cohen, Tina Dinsmore, Boyd Johnson, Derek Katzenbach, Noema Gems, Jessie Mixer, Christine Peters (coming soon), Brian Quigley, Jill Ross, and T & M Stones.

Hours: Monday through Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Science—Life of a Science Intern

By Anna Maria Farrugia

anna3As a science intern working in the MP2 research lab at the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum, I quickly fell into the nine to five routine. In the mornings, if you’re lucky, Mr. Falster will surprise you with a piece of fruit and a goofy note. You will then be given a task from Al to complete by the end of the day. The day-to-day tasks vary depending on how far along you are in your research.

The first day Al gave me numerous excel sheets of preexisting data. I was asked to extract particular data and enter it into a new excel sheet. This was done to recalculate mineral formulas from quantitative analytical data, and the results were presented in July at the Eugene E. Foord Pegmatite Symposium, in Colorado.

After being in the lab for a couple weeks, I was given my own project. Al took me into the field and showed me the type of rock needed for our research. After that, I was sent into the field on my own, multiple times, to retrieve samples. When the samples were obtained they were processed; first by using a four-pound hand mall, followed by the jaw crusher and, lastly, the milling process. After milling the sample, the rock becomes a fine-grained material that is ready to be wet sieved. Wet sieving is a method used to separate coarse grains from fine grains. Lithium metatungstate is used to separate the minerals within the fine-grained material by density. Minerals having a high-density chemical composition will settle to the bottom of the test tube, while the low-density minerals will float to the top. This method is known as heavy mineral separation. Once the separation was complete, I prepared sample mounts for the heavy minerals collected. In preparing the sample mounts, specific grains are handpicked under a microscope for analysis. The scanning electron microscope is used to analyze the chemistry of these grains.

While I love being in the lab, field assignments became my favorite task. Maine’s landscape is majestic and alluring. Having the opportunity to explore this state’s geology and analyze its geochemistry has been life changing. I am incredibly privileged to have gained access to quarries by working with MP2 and MMGM, since many of them are not open to the public. Learning new methods and the fundamentals of scanning electron microscopy has assisted in my growth as a young geologist. I could not have picked a better place to start my life after graduation.

Support—MMGM’s Legacy Society

By William F. Stockwell, Fundraising Consultant

Bill Stockwell-cropAt the September Board meeting it was announced that Arthur Hussey had made a provision in his will for the benefit of MMGM. Arthur was one of the founding board members of the museum and a wonderful advocate for support. This is the first bequest the museum has ever received.

To honor Arthur’s memory a legacy society was approved by the board and will be named the Arthur M. Hussey Legacy Society to encourage others to make provisions in their will or estate plans for support of the museum.

As we prepare to launch our capital campaign to raise $12 million, planned giving and endowments will become an integral part of our plan. Anyone who notifies the museum of their intention to include MMGM in their estate plans will become a member of the Arthur M. Hussey Legacy Society and will be recognized in our annual report to the museum family.

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