AUGUSTA  — The Maine State Museum’s newest exhibit, Maine Voices from the Civil War, will open Saturday.    Organized to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the opening also coincides with the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, fought July 1–3, 1865, according to a Maine State Museum press release.

“Maine Voices from the Civil War draws almost exclusively from the extensive collections of the Maine State Museum,” notes Museum Director Bernard Fishman in the release. “These collections include thousands of letters, documents, diaries, sketches, paintings, flags and other objects from the turbulent Civil War period. Museum Chief History Curator Laurie LaBar chose the objects because they highlight historic events or themes from a Maine perspective. We are also pleased to feature many items that will be on exhibit for the first time.”

“Over 70,000 Mainers from every corner of the state and every walk of life, representing more than 10 percent of the state’s whole population in 1860, fought in the Civil War,” says LaBar, in the release. “The voices of these Maine people will be heard in Maine Voices from the Civil War through the letters they wrote to loved ones and the diaries they kept. The objects and photographs carried, used and made by Maine soldiers and their families will also be featured, as they tell of wartime experiences, hopes and fears, and prejudices and heroism. The exhibit’s documents, objects and photographs reflect the political climate of the day and how Mainers viewed and experienced the war in all its complexity, glory and horror.”

The exhibit will have a web presence including photos of artifacts, full transcripts of the letters quoted in the exhibit and brief biographies of the soldiers and civilians whose thoughts or possessions are featured. The museum has also published a companion volume, “Maine Voices from the Civil War” authored by Laurie LaBar. The book includes objects and stories from both of the Maine State Museum’s Civil War exhibits: Maine Voices from the Civil War and To the Highest Standard: Maine’s Civil War Flags.

The exhibit will remain on view until spring 2015. With this exhibition, the Maine State Museum joins 22 other museums and historical societies in Maine’s Civil War Trail, a statewide collaborative effort to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

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