Central Maine Plays summer exhibitions and programs are planned at eight central Maine museums and libraries. The exhibitions and programs help participants explore the joy and fun of play in the past, according to an L.C. Bates Museum news release.

The Central Kennebec Heritage Council of Museums activities begins at 7 tonight, with a talk about “Milton Bradley: The Man who taught America How to Play” at the Victor Grange, in Fairfield. David Richards, director of the Margaret Chase Smith Library, will speak. Richards will talk about the life of Bradley including his youth in central Maine and the development and success of his home entertainment board game empire. This project kickoff talk is free and there will be refreshments and door prizes.

Victor Grange is at the junction of routes 104, 23 and 139 in Fairfield Center. Before the talk, David Staber will play tunes popular in the late 1800s on a fiddle made in 1882 by John Lorring, of Norridgewock.

During the summer, participating museums will have programs and/or exhibitions about play. The exhibition subjects range from Sports Over the Years to Leisure Time Entertainment before TV.

Participating museums are L.C. Bates Museum, Margaret Chase Smith Library, Oakland Historical Society/Macartney House Museum, Taconnett Falls Chapter of the Maine Genealogical Society, Skowhegan History House, Fairfield History House, Fairfield Grange and Sydney Historical Society.

The varied exhibits and programs will link to both local and broader history and events. For example, the L.C. Bates Museum exhibit on orphan recreation will link it to the outdoor movement that influenced the philosophy of childcare used at Good Will. The exhibit will reflect on the national issue of and changes in how people spent their free time.

For more information, email [email protected] or call 238-4250.

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