Visitors to mid-coast Maine ask what to do on a rainy day, a cold day or during the slow season. The answer includes a visit to the Owls Head Transportation Museum. It is open 7 days per week year round and has something for everyone to enjoy. The amazing collection includes automobiles, aircraft, bicycles, motorcycles, carriages and engines. Men are generally very enthusiastic about the suggestion. Women not so much. Afterwards, the women also agree it was a great idea and children love Owls Head Transportation museum too. There are multiple interactive displays the kids enjoy and they can honk car horns located throughout the museum.
Owls Head Transportation Museum is a nonprofit museum. Tom Watson, former chairman and CEO of IBM, and Jim Rockefeller, airplane and boat builder, spent summers in the Maine mid-coast and shared a love of aviation. This love and a loose idea of having somewhere to fly old planes led to the founding of the museum in 1974. Owls Head Transportation Museum is near the Knox County Airport which is just south of Rockland and an easy half hour drive south from the Hawthorn Inn.
The museum has a strong focus on education. There are a number of School Programs available at the museum and at a local school. There are often programs for school age children during school vacation weeks. One can also schedule themed tours. I have been lucky enough to overhear one of volunteers providing one of these tours and found it both informative and interesting.
Since the museum owns more items than can be displayed at one time, there are periodic changes to keep things interesting for repeat guests. Each exhibition contains detailed explanations. For some exhibitions, there are short films. During our last visit we enjoyed the following exhibitions:
- Women Who Dare: Pioneering Women of Transportation
- The Bentley Boys
- Coach Built
- Faster: the Quest for Speed
In addition to the exhibitions, there is an amazing collection of unique pre-1940 modes of transportation. A few of our favorites in the collection include:
Owls Head Transportation Museum Events
There are multiple events throughout the year at the museum. Some prior events are:
The December holiday celebration has free admission and activities. Santa arrives by air (weather permitting). Children write letters for Santa, decorate cookie, and do crafts. There is story telling, a concert and refreshments.
Winter education series programs are free to the public (suggested donation $10). One lecture per month January through April.
School vacation week includes kite making workshops.
Mid-coast Model Festival in April has approximately 70 exhibitors. It features a vast array of models of all kinds, including trains, aircraft, boats, automobiles and more. Miniaturists also exhibit their architectural-quality scale homes and furnishings.
June’s Father’s day event is a Foreign Auto Festival and Antique Airplane Show
In August, there is an Automobile Auction. It is a premier automotive auction, attracting bidders and consignors from all over the world with a stunning inventory guaranteed to impress any collector!
The Annual Barnstormers Ball the annual fund raiser was in August. Guests don 1920’s evening wear for the “Gin & Jazz” themed party with food, drinks and music set against antique cars and planes.
September hosted a Vintage Motorcycle Festival, Antique Aeroplane Show and a Rod & Custom Cruise-in.
If you need lodging when coming for one of the Owls Head Transportation Museum event, check availability at the Hawthorn Inn located just half hour from the Owls Head Transportation Museum.