Old Technology Inspiring New Ideas.

In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell received a patent for “improvements in telegraphy.” The device described in that patent, later called the telephone, changed the world. The Telephone Museum invites you to explore the history of that device, the inventions it spawned, the businesses it created, and the people who worked to construct, maintain, and improve the network of telephone wires that spanned the country. 

Is the wired telephone network a thing of the past? Not at this hands-on, interactive museum with real working telephones, switchboards, and switching systems. You are encouraged to use wall-mounted, hand-crank magneto phones, dial phones, and manual switchboards. And you will see, hear and enjoy the electro-mechanical marvels that led the way to computers, cell phones, smart phones and other wonders of telecommunications.

We celebrate the inventiveness, craftsmanship, ingenuity and industry of the telecommunications community through educational programs, exhibits, and special events.

See you in 2024!

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About the Museum

Our mission is to demonstrate the social and technical significance of the telephone network as it existed from 1876 to the present, using working equipment to provide tangible, operable evidence of an evolving technology.

Our history: The New England Museum of Telephony, Inc. was founded in 1984 as the breakup of the Bell System was taking place. The museum was created in response to the loss of an uncommon switching system known as “Panel.” After older, more established museums failed to save the switch, it was sent to the scrapyard. Its fate encouraged museum founders to continue to collect, before all evidence of a wired network, especially the larger switching systems, vanished.

Shortly after incorporation, the founders were offered the museum’s current location in Ellsworth with ample space to set up, exhibit, and operate equipment, as well as room for future expansion. The beautiful rural location, close to Bangor and tourist destination Acadia National Park, was irresistible.

The New England Museum of Telephony, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation doing business as The Telephone Museum in Ellsworth, Maine. 

Website Work
We have recently made changes to our website in advance of a transition to a new theme this winter.
  • News & Events now includes articles and announcements, selected issues of “The Pole Line” newsletter, and events (Volunteer Days) pinned at the top.
  • Exhibits are now listed on the Plan Your Visit page.
  • About Us is the new home page
  • Volunteer is now part of our Join & Support page.