Shopping for that perfect gift that says only in Maine? Since 1996, founder, director, and curator Nancy 3. Hoffman (the 3 is no typo, she legally changed her middle name from Arlene to 3 in 1992) has operated the Umbrella Cover Museum, a small, quirky museum paying homage to the lowly umbrella cover. Inside, Hoffman displays umbrella sheaths from more than 30 countries. Even better, during a guided tour she sings “Let a smile be your umbrella,” accompanied by an accordion (one can’t make this stuff up!).
Getting to the museum requires taking a ferry from Portland to Peaks Island, about a 20-minute cruise, then walking five minutes or so to the storefront museum. But if you can’t get there, you can still take a guided tour with Hoffman (minus the accordion accompaniment). Uncovered And Exposed: A Guide to the World’s Only Umbrella Cover Museum is now available online ($19.95). Says Hoffman: “This witty and whimsical guide to the quirkiest museum you’ve ever been to makes a perfect coffee table book – for a very small coffee table.”