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RIVER IN MY BACKYARD - exhibit update!

You might have noticed that we’ve been doing some exhibit updates at MDM. We want to share some details about what they are and when you can expect to see them ready to go!

RIVER IN MY BACKYARD is our biggest exhibit update since we opened in 2001. We know that it’s been taking a long time to complete, and while it may seem like things are stalled, a lot has been happening. We’re currently in the third phase of a five-phase project. What’s been accomplished so far?

Phase 1: Remove the old exhibits. The original river and Aquaculture (previously, Paper Factory) exhibits were installed over 22 years ago. The process of removal was slow and long to ensure time for safety and detailed inspections. We found structural damage that needed to be repaired. Cost: $25,000.

Phase 2: Remove water-damaged structure and rebuild. We hired a local team from TSC Contractors to help rebuild this area, which had been damaged structurally from two decades of water hitting the floor during play. Cost: $20,000.

Phase 3: Pool, plumbing, electrical. Did you know the Museum has a pool in the basement? Since January, we have been working closely with Sandollar Spa & Pool and Integrity Electric to ensure our new river will flow safely. All the old electrical fixtures have been removed; the old drain pipes have been sealed; the original pool needed to be moved and relined; and a new pool pump system has been installed. Final work to do: get all the plumbing, electrical, and pool systems ready for the new water tables. Cost to date: $20,000.

Phase 4: Final water table and exhibit design. Our Museum team is finalizing the educational content and design for the many topics that will be shared as part of this journey down the Penobscot River. Instead of ordering expensive water tables from an out-of-state exhibit firm, we’re partnering with Maine businesses to have our unique design custom-built in Maine; working with local artists for wall and floor murals; and teaming up with multiple Maine nonprofits to highlight specific Penobscot River topics, education, and experiences. Included in this is a focus on stormwater with the Bangor Area Stormwater Group (BASWG).Estimated cost: at least $60,000.

Museum exhibits are expensive, and many of these expenses are behind the scenes. We are working to build a new exhibit as cost-efficiently as possible, one that is sustainable and durable while still providing a great experience. We believe our choice to work locally will save us money and benefit our local partners. MDM has received grant funding (USDA) and sponsor support (BASWG and Bangor Greendrinks). We still have sponsor opportunities available; if you’re interested in sponsoring, please email Kate Dickerson at If you’d like to donate, please click on the DONATE button below, or donate via PayPal after scanning this QR code. Your support means everything to us!

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