Check out the Maine Lighthouse Museum

Maine Lighthouse Museum

Photo Credit: Tania Dey / Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse / Wikimedia Commons

There is much more to a lighthouse than its impressive structure and its life-saving beacon of light. While you’re in Maine, be sure to visit the Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland where you can learn the heroic stories behind the lighthouses — and their keepers — that are steeped in tradition.

Visit the Maine Lighthouse Museum

The Maine Lighthouse Museum is located on the waterfront in historic downtown Rockland. The museum is open Thursday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rockland is a short drive from the Hartstone Inn in Camden, making for a perfect daytrip.

The Maine Lighthouse Museum was founded in 1968 by Ken Black, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard. It began with items from Black’s personal collection and is now home to the largest collection of lighthouse and U.S. Coast Guard Artifacts in the nation.

Exhibits at the Maine Lighthouse Museum

The collection of Fresnel lenses at the Lighthouse Museum offers an up-close look at the technology developed for the special purpose of casting light great distances from a lighthouse tower. One of the first things you’ll notice is the range of sizes of the lenses.

The Fresnel lens was developed by a French engineer and consists of many separate sections of glass or plastic mounted to a frame. There are several different “orders,” or sizes, of Fresnel lenses, the largest being the “first order.”  This large lens is about 12 feet tall and about 6 feet wide.

Both of the lighthouses in Rockland, the Rockland Breakwater Light and the Owls Head Light, contained a fourth order lens. This size lens was often used in major harbor lights to mark the entrance of a harbor mouth. It weighed nearly 700 pounds, could be seen from a maximum distance of 15 nautical miles in perfect conditions.

In addition to the Fresnel lens collection, take some time to explore the foghorns, flags and many other artifacts at the museum, as well as learn about the life of light keepers and their families. The museum also includes a gift shop.

Our Favorite Maine Lighthouse Tours

After you’ve visited the museum, be sure to visit the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse and the Owls Head Lighthouse, both located in Rockland. While the lighthouses themselves are not open to the public, you can explore the grounds, both of which offer dramatic, sweeping views of the Maine coastline and surrounding harbor. Read more about these lighthouses, and a few others, in our blog about Our Favorite Maine Lighthouse Tours.


The Hartstone Inn is an enchanting bed and breakfast hideaway in the heart of downtown Camden, Maine. Choose from 21 elegant guest rooms and suites, appointed with luxurious amenities, including soft robes, fine linens and down quilts and pillows. Enjoy gourmet cuisine morning, afternoon and evening, and maybe even try your hand at preparing a gourmet meal or two yourself with our Foodie Adventure Packages. Our Camden bed and breakfast is the perfect place to get away from it all.

For more information about the Maine Lighthouse Museum, please visit their website.

Photo Credit: Tania Dey / Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse / Wikimedia Commons

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