L.C. Bates Museum – Skowhegan, Maine - Atlas Obscura
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Skowhegan, Maine

L.C. Bates Museum

This eclectic natural history collection holds everything from a bit of the trans-atlantic cable to Hemingway's marlin. 

The L.C. Bates Natural History Museum has been called a “Museum of a Museum” thanks to its eclectic collection of exhibits ranging from cultural artifact displays to taxidermied animals to the simple rocks that started began the collection.

The museum was first dreamt up around 1889 by progressive children’s activist George Hinckley who established the museum after opening his Good Will farm school for underprivileged waifs. Hinckley famously kick started the collection with just a few rocks: a fossil, a chunk of sulphur, and a stalactite. However from these humble beginnings, the selection of wonders from the natural world grew to encompass dozens of preserved mammals, birds, and fish (including a Marlin caught by Ernest Hemingway!), alongside the ever mounting collection of rocks. The expanding collection eventually outgrew its home at the Good Will building and in 1920 it was moved to its current home thanks to the funding of the Lewis Carlton Bates, who now lends his name to the museum as well.    

Having continued collecting specimens and other artifacts for its collection, the L.C. Bates Museum now houses rooms dedicated to sea life, mammals, rocks, and cultural artifacts. In addition to the wall to wall taxidermy one might expect in a natural history museum as well as such oddities as an amphora reputed to come from the ruins of Nebuchadnezzar’s palace in Babylon (modern Iraq), and a piece of the original trans-atlantic cable.