The Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Maine is now breaking ground on construction of a new gallery space that will house an immersive lighthouse exhibit: Into the Lantern: A Lighthouse Experience. Opening in the summer of 2017, the exhibit will house the second-order Fresnel lens that once guided ships into Portland, Maine from the Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse east tower (formerly known as Two Lights) in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. The lens in the exhibit is the original 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 in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
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.
This story appeared in the
Nov/Dec 2016 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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