Wednesday, July 30, 2008



Portland, Maine’s Victoria Mansion is pleased to announce that it has received a $7,500 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to host The Big Read in the Greater Portland Area and that it is the only Maine organization hosting The Big Read. Victoria Mansion is one of 208 libraries, municipalities, and arts, culture, higher education, and science organizations to receive a grant to host The Big Read from September 2008-June 2009. The Big Read gives communities the opportunity to come together to read, discuss, and celebrate one of 23 selections from American and world literature. The Big Read in Portland will focus on The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. Activities will take place beginning March 2009.

The latest Big Read grantees represent 46 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. To date, the NEA has given more than 500 grants to support local Big Read projects.

Victoria Mansion’s Director Robert Wolterstorff said of the grant, “I am thrilled to be taking part in The Big Read. We’ve received major federal grants for restoration projects before, but this is the first one to support programming, and it’s a great honor to receive this grant in the year we celebrate our 150th Anniversary.”
“Everything the NEA does we do in partnership. I am delighted to announce our 208 new partners in The Big Read. Some are new to the program, some are returning, but all of them have answered the call to action to get our country reading again,” said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. “I am very pleased that Victoria Mansion, Inc. has been awarded this grant. Reading and discussing the same book will be a great way for diverse members of the Greater Portland community to share thoughts about this American classic and its relevance to today’s society.” (Tom Allen, US Representative)

The selected organizations will receive Big Read grants ranging from $2,500 to $20,000 to promote and carry out community-based reading programs featuring activities such as read-a-thons, book discussions, lectures, movie screenings, and performing arts events. Participating communities also receive high-quality, free-of-charge educational materials to supplement each title, including Reader’s, Teacher’s, and Audio Guides. Victoria Mansion is also thrilled to announce that they have received The Major Grant of $4,000 from the Maine Humanities Council to support The Big Read programming.

“With this latest round of grants, I am proud to say that The Big Read has supported more than 500 public library partnerships,” said Anne-Imelda M. Radice, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the NEA’s lead federal partner for The Big Read. “Through this program, public libraries continue to demonstrate their value in communities as centers of engagement, literacy, and lifelong learning. I am particularly delighted by the innovative public programming born out of library and museum collaborations.”

To encourage community-wide participation in The Big Read, Victoria Mansion has partnered with Portland Public Library, Maine Humanities Council, and Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. In addition, the American and New England Studies Program, the Education Department, and the School of Music at the University of Southern Maine; Livermore Falls High School; Skyline Farm; and a host of community, library, social, and local book groups will be involved with The Big Read. To participate in Victoria Mansion’s Big Read programs or for more information on events related to The Big Read, please contact Tracy Quimby at

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest. Support for The Big Read is provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Transportation for The Big Read is provided by Ford. For more information about The Big Read please visit

Victoria Mansion, a National Historic Landmark, is located in Portland, Maine. Our mission is to conserve,
maintain, and restore the Victoria Mansion property and collections to the highest standards, and to interpret them in their social, historical, and art-historical context to a broad local, state, and national audience. The Mansion is open for its regular season of tours May – October, Monday through Saturday, 10-4, Sunday 1-5. All tours are guided and reservations are not necessary for groups under 10. The Carriage House Gift Shop, featuring beautiful Victorian inspired gifts, decorations, jewelry and books is open the same hours as the museum and may be visited without paying admission. Please visit

The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts—both new and established—bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the nation’s largest annual funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases. For more information, please visit

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. For more information, please visit

Arts Midwest connects people throughout the Midwest and the world to meaningful arts opportunities, sharing creativity, knowledge, and understanding across boundaries. Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 25 years. For more information, please visit

Monday, July 21, 2008

EW in Maine, 1907

On Isleboro, Maine:

Edith Wharton was a visitor in 1907, and ex-President Theodore Roosevelt stopped in to see his daughter in 1917. Famous yachtsmen such as J.P. Morgan and George W. Vanderbilt wouldn’t dream of passing by without a stopover on their way to Bar Harbor.