Collection + Exhibits

Permanent Collection


Preserving our past, in the present, to inspire the future.

A unique collection of over 10,000 artifacts, hundreds of recorded oral histories, and engaging exhibits exploring the history and heritage of yesterday and how it influences our today and tomorrow.

Maine MILL’s collection began with salvaged machinery and artifacts saved by local community members when the last textile mill closed in 2001. As word spread, more objects came into our collection—expanding to include other industries and stories that helped to shape our community over the years.

We continue to add to our collection to include a wider range of perspectives and experiences in order to tell our community’s whole story, a story that continues to unfold.

Today, we have a one-of-a-kind collection that includes:

Collection Highlights


The majority of these artifacts were found in the deserted mills of Lewiston and Auburn, salvaged on their way to the dump, or donated by former textile workers and their families. The collection consists of both modern and vintage locally produced textiles, machinery involved in local production, personal items and tools owned by the mill workers, and photographs of mill work and social life.


Corporate and individual donors have contributed significantly to the wide variety of shoe shop artifacts in Maine MILL’s collection. The majority of the items represent the last 50 years of the industry through machinery, tools, shoe lasts, products, and promotional materials for the companies who settled here.


The current collection of brickmaking artifacts represents the long history of brick production in Lewiston and Auburn. The nature of the work changed little over hundreds of years and used few tools. Ironically, the industry producing the longest lasting monuments left the least evidence of its existence.

Oral History Project

Listen to hundreds of recorded interviews and oral histories told by the people who lived and labored here.

Object of the Month

A photograph of female mill workers, a piano punching machine, 1969 square dance convention ribbon—each month is something new! Join us in learning more about Maine MILL’s collection with Object of the Month.

Accessing the Collection

Listen to hundreds of recorded interviews and oral histories told by the people who lived and labored here.

Donating to the Collection

Interested in making a donation of an artifact or helping Maine MILL to acquire a rare item to enhance our collection? We are looking for objects to augment our collection in the following ways:

  • Objects related to other major industries in the area: shoe and brick. This includes items related to technology, products, and workers in these industries. There is a specific focus on materials dating to or before 1950.
  • Objects related to our community’s history. This includes items from notable local businesses, notable community members, and the daily lives of the people living here.
  • Objects representing the various ethnic and immigrant groups that have come to live in our community from the 1850s until the present.

Have more questions?