Bath, Maine – This November, Maine Maritime Museum will break ground on construction of a new gallery space that will house an immersive lighthouse exhibit, Into the Lantern: A Lighthouse Experience. Opening in summer 2017, the exhibit will house the second-order Fresnel lens that that once guided ships into Portland, Maine, from the east Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse tower (formerly known as Two Lights). The lens in the exhibit is the original ca. 1874 Fresnel lens that was in the east lantern until 1991.
Into the Lantern: A Lighthouse Experience will be the first exhibit of its kind to include a 180-degree media projection system with time-lapse videography of the active panorama of the Gulf of Maine, simulating the experience of standing in the lantern (the room at the top of a lighthouse tower where the lens is located) by showcasing changing views of Casco Bay as seen from the tower. The videography is currently being shot from the actual east lantern at Two Lights. The exhibit will be on one level, making it possible for people who are physically unable to negotiate the steps of a real tower to have the visceral experience of going “up into” a lighthouse – with the views from the top, the sounds, and the breezes.
“Imagine standing at the top of the Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse and watching the view changing over 24 hours – from sunrise to sunset with boat traffic going by, the wind blowing, and the seagulls calling. We want to replicate that experience for all the people who know and love this famous lighthouse, but will never otherwise be able to appreciate it in that way,” said Executive Director Amy Lent. “We’ve been offering boat tours of area lighthouses for years and we know how much people love learning about them, so we are excited to create this new experience that will teach the history and science behind these important navigational aids in an entirely new way.”
The lens has been kept in climate-controlled storage at the museum since 2013. It was formerly housed in the lobby at Cape Elizabeth Town Hall.
A capital campaign is underway to raise the $980,000 needed for design, construction, and installation of the permanent exhibit with nearly 80 percent of the goal raised so far.
Submitted by Katie Meyers, Maine Maritime Museum, November 16, 2016
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Candace was the US Lighthouse Society historian from 2016 until she passed away in August 2018. For 30 years, her work involved lighthouse history. She worked with the National Park Service and the Council of American Maritime Museums. She was a noted author and was considered the most knowledgable person on lighthouse information at the National Archives. Books by Candace Clifford include: Women who Kept the Lights: a History of Thirty-eight Female Lighthouse Keepers , Mind the Light Katie, and Maine Lighthouses, Documentation of their Past.