News at The Telephone Museum

Opening for 2023 Season
On the weekend of May 20, museum volunteers and board members powered up the switching equipment, cleaned floors and displays, and have been working on organizing items in storage. We will be open for regular hours starting the first Saturday in July through end of September. The History of the Independent Phone Companies in Maine continues to be on display. Please stop by if you missed it last year.

Open for 2022 Season
With cleanup and power-up of the the switching equipment completed, we will be open for normal hours every Saturday from July until end of September 10am to 4pm. With limited staff and to accommodate social distancing, we are asking visitors to schedule a tour by calling or emailing our museum. We have a great exhibit on the History of Independent Phone Companies in Maine in our visitor’s center that we’d love to have you tour. We hope to see you this season.

Re-Opening in 2021
After what seemed like many seasons gone by, we’re happy to announce that the museum will be opening in 2021 after being closed last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We will have new procedures in place this year to keep our volunteers and visitors safe. Namely we will be open by appointment only this year starting in July through end of September. We are asking all visitors to please wear a mask when visiting the museum.

Closed But Not Quiet in 2020
Like many businesses and museums, we were forced to keep the museum closed to visitors in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite being closed, it was not quiet at the museum. Volunteers worked many long hours to clean up the grounds, trim tree branches away from the buildings, sort artifacts, and building a new exhibit in the Visitor’s Center. We can’t wait to show you the work that we’ve completed.

Our New Look in 2018
Many thanks to everyone who donated to the “Barn Fund.” You can see for yourself what an inviting entrance the new windows and doors present to our visitors. This was truly a membership-driven project with additional interest from donors all over the country in preserving the look of the main building and the exhibits within.

The results of the Barn Project

“The First Hackers: Phone Phreaks vs. Ma Bell 1955-1970”
The First Hackers

A new exhibit at The Telephone Museum opened on June 18, 2016. The exhibit is based on the book “Exploding The Phone” by Phil Lapsley. Mr. Lapsley was present at the opening to give a short talk at 1pm and stayed to sign copies of his book. The admission price of $10./adult and $5./child included all museum exhibits. Free admission for museum members.

With a forward by Steve Wozniak, and details about the exploits of the telephone hackers, the book is a timely trip back to the origins of hacking before computers were “personal” and when “Ma Bell” ruled the rates for telephone calls.

Mr. Lapsley was the guest of honor at a reception on Friday, June 17, 2016 at The Telephone Museum.

JUNE 18, 2016:  Opening of new exhibit “The First Hackers: Phone Phreaks vs. Ma Bell 1955-1970.”

1-4pm at The Telephone Museum, 166 Winkumpaugh Road, Ellsworth, Maine. Short talk by Phil Lapsley author of “Exploding The Phone” at 1pm; book signing throughout the day.

Admission price of $10. per adult and $5. per child includes exhibits in Main Building and Visitor Center. Free admission for museum members.

Maine Science Festival 2016h16
The Telephone Museum joined other science and technology oriented exhibitors at The Maine Science Festival at Bangor’s Cross Insurance Center in March. The Festival, which took place on March 18, 19 and 20 at various locations around Bangor, is in its second year. The mission of the Festival is “to stimulate interest in science among the general population, to heighten awareness of the impact of science on everyday life, and to demonstrate the diversity of scientific enterprise in Maine. This year’s Headliner speaker was Nate Silver, statistician, author and founder of the website FiveThirtyEight.

The Telephone Museum was among the hands-on exhibitors at the Cross Insurance Center on Friday and Saturday, March 18 and 19. The museum’s portable Strowger systems introduced the complexities of electro-mechanical switching, and lead to discussions ranging from the transmission of sound, to (calling) traffic analysis. The switches and associated dial phones also added a buzz, clunk and ring to the hum of the exhibit hall – you couldn’t miss them!

The NoPhone: Now Featured at The Telephone Museum
The Telephone Museum in Ellsworth, Maine is now the first museum in the United States to display the recently launched NoPhone device. Invented last year and produced with the help of a Kickstarter fund-raiser, the device was featured at the Museum Angewandte Kunst in Franfurt, Germany earlier this year.

Unlike The Telephone Museum’s working, interactive exhibits of telephones and pre-digital telephone switching equipment, the NoPhone is inert. Although its shape and size would suggest otherwise, it does absolutely nothing. A merely palliative tool for those who are obsessively attached to the real thing, the NoPhone offers relief from the day-to-day demands of cell phone ownership, and a chance for its users to re-engage in human-to-human relationships. It brings the art of telephone communication full circle: from Alexander Graham Bell’s quest to transmit human speech, to the restoration of personal interaction.
The NoPhone is a technology-free alternative to constant hand-to-phone contact. In other words, it is a piece of plastic in the shape of a smartphone that helps people stay connected with the real world.

In April the NoPhone was featured at the Museum Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt, Germany in an exhibit entitled: “Hamster Hipster Handy”. The exhibit explored the positive and negative qualities of the mobile phone or “handy” as it’s known in Germany. Hamster – because radiation experiments were conducted on rodents – represented the negative consequences of cell phone use. Hipster referred to the penultimate 21st century consumer, infatuated with the endless possibilities of technology.

How pervasive is this compulsory need in humans to continuously engage in physical contact with a piece of plastic? On average, a single smartphone will use its technological wizardry to summon its user 150 times a day. The NoPhone was created to combat the rapid decline of real life social interaction. It’s sleek, plastic design serves as an idle hand’s security blanket and is devised to placate the constant need to hold a mobile device while allowing users to fully experience their immediate surroundings.

Fun with Phones at HOME

FullSizeRenderThe Telephone Museum’s booth at the recent (March 19-21) homeschooler convention at the Samoset Resort in Rockland was VERY well received. The Strowger demonstrator had a busy time, as did the two magneto phones. There was a good deal of interest in the story of the museum, and much curiosity about the step-by-step machinery. The little dial demonstrator received a lot of use, too – kids had to learn dialing skills before using the “real” phones. Needless to say, they caught on quickly!

This was the first year that the convention had placed all the “hands-on” exhibitors in a room of their own. The other science and/or museum vendors were also busy, and new friends and connections were made. It was a very complimentary crowd. Education, co-operation, collaboration = success. Congratulations to HOME on a successful convention!

Many thanks to Dave Thompson who made the connection with Homeschoolers of Maine, and who organized the exhibit. And thanks to several museum volunteers who gave many hours to commute to Rockport to help out at the booth. Please check out the “Calendar and Events” page of this website to see what’s happening next – and find out how YOU can be part of the fun!

The Dave and Jeff Show

Tune in to this video to find out what our two most experienced tour guides (telephone guys, Down East Pioneers, board members, fixer-uppers, level-headers, etc. etc.) have to say about The Telephone Museum!

Visitor Center Comes Up “Busy”

Scurrying to install rest room signs, grading the entrance with rakes and wood chips, bringing in food and drinks, cleaning and decorating, museum board members prepared to celebrate years of planning and fund-raising with the Grand Opening of the Visitor Center at The Telephone Museum.

One of the centerpieces at The Telephone Museum’s Grand Opening of the new Visitor Center held on May 15, 2014.*

One of the centerpieces at The Telephone Museum’s Grand Opening of the new Visitor Center held on May 15, 2014.*

On May 15, 2014 the museum board greeted Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce members and Visitor Center donors to the first public event in the new building. More than 80 people attended, with the overflow crowd heading into the Main Building where volunteers Chad Perkins, Rick Miller and others dispensed information about the museum’s exhibits and mission. A bewildered “by chance” visitor from Utah arrived just as festivities were beginning and agreed to join in on a tour as a paying guest!

Inside the new building, people crowded around tables laden with food donated by Friends and Family Market, and sat down at tables decorated with colored telephone sets surrounded by artificial flowers in complimentary hues. New Land Nursery sent a beautiful bouquet of live flowers for the registration table and decorated the driveway entrance with rhododendron bushes.

In addition, The Telephone Museum board was pleased to welcome Ellsworth City Manager Michelle Beal, who had been present for ground-breaking ceremonies in June 2013, and Maine State Senator Brian Langley and his wife, owners of the popular Lobster Pot Restaurant in Ellsworth.

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of a check for $1000. from the Bangor Savings Bank Foundation’s Community Matters More Campaign. The award honored the museum’s selection as a participant in the campaign and was presented by Sheryl Edgecomb, Bangor Savings Bank Vice-President and manager of the Ellsworth Branch.

The success of this event is fortuitous, as the museum intends the Visitor Center to be used for community-based activities, volunteer orientations, and special meetings and events for the museum and other area organizations. Most importantly, by extending the museum season to include the regular school year, the building will be the starting point for educational programs focusing on the history of telecommunications as illustrated by the museum’s working exhibits and extensive collections.

* photo courtesy of Phyllis Young, Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce