Maine College of Art & Design Opens State’s Only Materials Collection

PORTLAND, ME September 20, 2021Maine College of Art & Design (MECA&D) today announced the opening of the Materials Collection at its Joanne Waxman Library. The mission of the collection—the first and only one of its kind in the state of Maine—is to provide novel, sustainable, and traditional materials to inspire, inform, and spark inquiry for artists and designers.

As internet catalogues replace the need for large in-house sample inventories, there is a growing demand for materials libraries all across the country in the fields of design, architecture, and construction. The Materials Collection housed at MECA&D serves as an interdisciplinary, educational resource for patrons exploring new and innovative physical materials in their work. 

“Collections of sample materials and products provide a tactile means for artists and designers to explore and consider options for little-known and hard-to-find items, opening up new possibilities for their work,” explains Shiva Darbandi, Director of the Joanne Waxman Library at Maine College of Art & Design. “We are thrilled to open the first one here in Maine for our community to explore.”

A look at the organization in the Materials Collection at Joanne Waxman Library. Photo: Steve Bowden ’97, Director of Marketing and Communications

Ranging from newly engineered objects to everyday items reconsidered, the Materials Collection serves to increase material literacy by providing an opportunity for artists to physically manipulate little-known, hard-to-find, and sustainable materials. The library currently offers over 2,000 items donated by more than 70 individuals and companies. Materials contained range from traditional (e.g., canvas and paper samples) to innovative (e.g., aerogel, the lightest material in the world).

The collection is organized by six groups (Naturals, Polymers, Metals, Minerals, Ceramics, and Textiles) as well as composition, form, properties, process, and application. Throughout the collection, suggestions are made to help students identify which materials best lend themselves to particular BFA majors.

Students, faculty and staff for the College are free to view, explore, and touch the materials in the library. At this time, Joanne Waxman Library is not lending materials. Individuals interested in more information or donating items are encouraged to contact the library at or 207-775-5153.


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Maine College of Art & Design (MECA&D, pronounced "Maine College of Art and Design”) has been activating students of all pursuits to make art, make an impact, and inspire change since its founding as Portland School of Art in 1882. Located in Portland's thriving Arts District, students have access to state-of-the-art facilities, 24-hour-a-day studios, a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and a community-based Artists at Work program—making MECA&D the right-sized school in the right-sized city for every student who wants to make their mark and be seen. MECA&D offers BFA Majors and Minors, Graduate Programs, Continuing Studies, Pre-College, and includes the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and the Institute for Contemporary Art. Follow us at @mecaart.