The Saco Museum was founded in March of 1866 as the York Institute by a group of men from widely different backgrounds, who shared an interest in the pursuit of knowledge. Their pledge was that none of them should die in possession of an uncommunicated historical fact. The stated purpose of the organization was "to promote the study of Natural History; encourage Science and Art; also to collect and preserve whatever relates to the Natural and Civic history of York County."
Today the museum's galleries include permanent as well as changing exhibitions. On the main level the permanent "Making History" exhibit features the history of the Saco region from settlement through the 20th century. The changing exhibit gallery showcases the museum's extraordinary collections, important works by contemporary Maine artists, and extensively researched thematic exhibitions.
On the second floor is a changing exhibit room as well as a room furnished to reflect a mill girl's boarding house bedroom from the 1840’s. Downstairs the exhibit "Natural Wonders: Specimens from Victorian Collectors" features natural history history specimens, including birds of New England.