For those trolling around the Boothbay Region searching for something to do, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens may be the place. When the Gardens opened on May 1, guests saw five trolls patrolling the facility’s 300-plus acres protecting the surrounding environment. The trolls are part of CMBG’s “The Great Story of the Little People and the Giant Trolls.” The project is a collaboration between Thomas Dambo, a leading recycled materials artist, and CMBG.
Dambo is creating a new guest experience using recycled materials. He is an artist based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Dambo has created 50 other trolls from recycled materials around the world. Each of his exhibits is part of a larger tale promoting environmentalism and protecting the planet. CMBG President Gretchen Osterherr explained the five trolls in Boothbay Harbor will continue in Dambo’s tradition of telling a story through his art. “This is all part of an interrelated larger story” involving his 50 other trolls, she said. “This is a story telling about five giant trolls emerging from the (Boothbay) woods protecting the planet. Basically, Thomas has written a fairy tale as part of a great educational program for us.”
Dambo is aided by 152 volunteers with various skill sets ranging from using power tools to bringing reclaimed wood from the forest. CMBG recruited volunteers from its long list of volunteers and connections with partners like L.L. Bean, and created new contacts from newcomers wanting to participate. CMBG opened May 1 for the season and guests will see glimpses of the trolls throughout the property. Volunteers are still on the property preparing the trolls for exhibition. CMBG officials expect all five trolls to emerge completed by May 31. “Guests will see glimpses of the trolls. They are protecting the seeds and the forest and are spread out all over the property. So you will need to spend some time to see all of them,” Osterherr said.
Director of Guest Experience and Education Daniel Ungier believes the trolls will spark great interest in the Gardens and fit its mission of educating people about the environment. “These are not scary trolls like ones hiding underneath a bridge,” Ungier said. “They are protectors living in the forest and they emerge to protect the property. I think this concept will appeal to a diverse audience,” he said.
In 2019, Dambo spent a couple days in the fall walking the property working towards developing a concept. “This is great for Boothbay,” Osterherr said. “It will get even more people down here. I think the community will love it too, and the trolls will come to be like part of the community,” she said.
CMBG officials describe Dambo’s work as “staggering, inviting seekers into the depths of our woodland while telling a story of conservation.” Dambo described his work as “an open-ended fuse that initiates wonder.”