Saco museum to show needlework by schoolgirls of Federal era


SACO — The Dyer Library/Saco Museum will offer an in-depth look at the complex and beautiful needlework created in Maine by schoolgirls of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

At a time when advanced academic opportunities for young women were limited, private academies — often run by women— offered training not only in academic subjects, but also in the fancy sewing skills that were of critical importance to future homemakers of the Federal era.

While many of these schools were well established in southern New England states by the late 18th century, Maine developed private academies a bit later. As these local academies grew and flourished, new styles of samplers and needlework evolved that were unique to Maine.

This exhibit, on view from Jan. 12 to March 2,  explores that evolution and offers a glimpse of a period of blossoming female creativity and accomplishment that transcended the societal limitations on women of the era.

About 120 samplers and other embroideries will be on view, drawn from the collections of the Dyer Library/Saco Museum as well as other public and private collections in Maine and beyond. 

A free public reception will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m Friday, Jan. 11. Contemporary needlework by the Southern Maine Chapter of the Embroiders’ Guild of America will also be featured.

For information on programs associated with the exhibit, call 283-3861, ext. 115, or visit

The Dyer Library/Saco Museum is at 371 Main St. Gallery hours: noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday;  noon to 8 p.m. Friday (free from 4 to 8 p.m.); 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday (June-December only). Admission: $5 for adult, $3 for seniors and students, $2 for children ages 7 to 18) and children 6 and younger, free.