Thursday, October 8, 2015

October at the Abbe

Great Meadow in Acadia National Park

When I started at the Abbe back in December, I hoped life would never be dull here, and my expectations were, in fact, exceeded—I’ve found creative and remarkable people, ingenious ideas, boundless energy, exciting programming, and stimulating exhibits. I am exactly where I’m meant to be—back home in Maine and working at an organization that not only inspires me every day, but one I believe in wholeheartedly. We're doing all this amazing, important work and I get to play a part in all of it!

And now it's October. One of the things that I haven't quite been able to grasp this year is the passage of time. 2015 has been going at such a fast clip, and the fact that it's October (my favorite month!) is slightly hard to believe. If you're feeling the same way I am, don’t despair—we have plenty to offer at the Abbe this month, including exhibitions, festivals, programming, and activities that will keep you entertained and engaged, whether you’re on a family outing or taking some “you” time to reflect and get inspired.

We're partnering with the Mount Desert Island YMCA this year on a couple of programs, the first of which is Thursday, October 8th. The Children's Wabanaki Map Workshop, from 3:30 - 4:30 pm at the YMCA, will explore how Wabanaki people made story-like birchbark maps, or wikhikonik, using specific symbols that were used as forms of communication between two separated parties. You’ll be able to use a piece of imitation birchbark to tell a story of your choosing and create your own wikhikonik! This workshop is free and open to the public.

For those of you traveling to Bar Harbor this weekend (October 10th), there's a LOT going on at the Museum. We have two festivals occurring—Bar Harbor Film Festival and Bar Harbor Children's Book Festival—and a free Teacher's Workshop. Because of the all the activity, we'll be shuffling around some exhibits, which means not all the exhibits will be open this weekend. If you are hoping to see the Waponahki Student Art Show (which closes the end of this month), The Greatest Mountain, or Layers of Time, you might want to aim to come by on Monday, October 12th, when all three will be re-opened. And what better way to re-think Columbus Day than by coming to a Native American museum to celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day!

We're also doing something this weekend that we haven't done in quite a while: admission will be by donation on Saturday the 10th and Sunday the 11th. Regular admission rates are $8 for adults and $4 for children ages 11 - 17; children 10 and under are free, as are Abbe members and Native Americans.

The inaugural Bar Harbor Film Festival kicks off at the Abbe on Friday evening, October 9th, at 6 pm and admission to the opening reception is free if you RSVP online. Check out the BHFF website for a full schedule of the weekend's film screenings and programs, and you can also purchase tickets for all of the Festival's events (there's different pricing depending on what you'd like to do). Or, stop by the Abbe Museum Shop and pick up your tickets in person. Abbe Museum members get in free!

The Bar Harbor Children's Book Festival is free and open to the public, so please stop by between 11 am and 3 pm for some author and illustrator workshops.

Our free Teacher's Workshop on Saturday, October 10th from 8 am to 4 pm will focus on how contact with European cultures affects Wabanaki communities. Some of the topics that will be examined include French and British attitudes towards the Wabanaki, different ideals of land ownership and the problems this created, how Wabanaki culture had changed by the end of the
Revolutionary War, and where to find resources and how to evaluate them. Teachers will earn eight (8) Contact Hours for the workshop. To register, please contact Museum Educator Jen Heindel at or call 207-288-3519.

On Thursday, October 15th, our annual film series is back, and this year’s theme focuses on the ideas of Continuity, Change, and Resistance. The first film, Weaving Worlds, is a documentary about DinĂ© (Navajo) rug weaving, and viewers will see one of the many perspectives on how Indigenous peoples in America have ensured economic and cultural survival through contemporary art. After the movie, join Museum Educators George Neptune and Jennifer Heindel for a discussion about the survival of traditions in the face of globalization. The film series is free and open to the public, and sponsored by Reel Pizza.

One of our most anticipated fall programs, Tea & Popovers Archaeology, will take place at the Jordan Pond House on Monday, October 19th from 7 - 9 pm. Our guest speaker this year is Chris Sockalexis, Penobscot Nation Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, and he'll present on the topic of petroglyph sites in Maine. This is a very popular evening and we've already filled a lot of seats! RSVP to 207-288-3519 or The cost is $20 for Abbe members and $30 for non-members.

Click here for full event listings for October.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Addition to the Abbe Museum Collections

Maliseet artist Gina Brooks and the Abbe's Director of Collections & Interpretation, Julia Clark.

The Diane Kopec Collection Fund at the Abbe Museum was created to acquire works by living Native American artists. The collection reflects the vitality and vibrancy of Native American art today, and we recently added a birchbark box by Maliseet artist Gina Brooks to this important collection.

The imagery on the box includes the wampum pattern representing the Wabanaki Confederacy, the people holding up that confederacy, and on the lid, the double curve that represents the unity of the four tribes. Native people sent and received Wampum woven into belts as a form of communication. Through the geometric patterns of the beads, Native people wove wampum designs to remember and recall important events like oral histories, treaties, and agreements. These belts were brought back and forth from important events, and passed down from generation to generation.

Gina Brooks, Maliseet, is from St. Mary’s First Nation in New Brunswick, Canada, and resides in nearby Fredericton. She considers herself an artist informed by Wabanaki traditional knowledge, and her art includes brown ash basketry, porcupine quill and birch bark basketry, carving, and print making. Her original prints include acrylic and ink, and lithographs, monotypes, and copper etch plating. Her basketry and print art has been commissioned by private art collectors and Aboriginal organizations across Canada, and her work has been exhibited at the Charlotte Street Arts Center in Fredericton, Sudbury Nature Center in St. Andrews, (Weaving Traditions), and is featured in the New Brunswick Museum’s Wabanaki contemporary art collection.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Abbe Museum Welcomes New Trustees

The Abbe Museum has added four new Trustees to its Board of Directors, bringing the total number of Trustees to 19. The new appointees – Abbe Levin, Margo Lukens, Patti Selig, and Chris Sockalexis – assumed their new roles on August 12, 2015.
“We are excited to welcome our incoming class,” said Abbe Museum President/CEO, Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko. “Our new members bring talents and new perspectives that will complement and strengthen our already impressive Board. We have spent time building a Board that is reflective of our community, our organizational needs, and our mission, and that care and commitment has certainly paid off. It is a pleasure to work alongside the Abbe Trustees as we strengthen the Abbe Museum’s presence locally and statewide.”
Abbe Levin is a cultural development consultant, and has served as the Cultural Tourism Coordinator for the Maine Office of Tourism since 2007. In addition, Levin works with a wide range of organizations and projects to assist with the preservation and promotion of cultural resources. She currently serves on the Maine Development Foundation’s Maine Downtown Center Advisory Council and the Sheepscot Valley Children’s House Board of Directors. Levin lives in Boothbay with her husband, and has two sons.

Margo Lukens is a professor in the University of Maine Department of English, and presently serves as chair of the Department of New Media and director of academic programs in Innovation Engineering. Her research interests include Wabanaki literary and storytelling history, Native American and First Nations plays and playwrights, innovation, and making whiteness visible to white people. Her work has included producing and directing Native American plays on campus and in the region, and generally participating in as much theater as possible.

Patti Selig’s first exposure to the Abbe was in the 1980s as she and her family discovered the Museum while visiting Sieur de Monts. She and her family lived in Ocean City, Maryland for 40 years where her husband owned a large construction company and she worked as a psychologist. She spent 20 years as a faculty member and department chair with the University of Maryland system, and when she retired from her career in higher education in 2005, she and her husband purchased the Cranberry Hill Inn in Southwest Harbor. She has been active as a volunteer for the Abbe for many years, serving on the Gala Committee, the Culinary Arts committee, and working at the front desk as a greeter.

Chris Sockalexis, Penobscot, is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Penobscot Nation, and has served on the Abbe Museum Native Advisory Council since 2012. He has a BA in Anthropology from the University of Maine with his primary focus being on Maine Archaeology. He is currently conducting research for his Masters of Science degree at the University of Maine Climate Change Institute. Sockalexis is also a flintkapper with knowledge of the ancient art and technique of stone and bone tool production. Sockalexis is also an avid canoe/kayak paddler who loves being out in the Maine woods and on the waterways that his ancestors have traveled for thousands of years. He lives with his wife Jill and her daughter Taylor in Winterport, and is the proud father of Shannon, Willow, and Em.

The Abbe Museum Trustees also include: Ann Cox Halkett (Chair), Richard Cleary (Vice Chair), Katherine Stroud Bucklin (Secretary), Jeff Dalrymple (Treasurer), David Moses Bridges, Joseph F. Cistone, Linda K. Dunn, William Haviland, Jamie Bissonette Lewey, Barbara E. McLeod, Jennifer Neptune, Douglas Sharpe, Curtis Simard, Steve Wessler, Sandra K. Wilcox, and Honorary Trustees Alice Wellman and Darren J. Ranco.

September is #changemakers month at the Abbe

Please come be #changemakers with us! 

As we close out our fiscal year at the end of September, the race is on to hit our annual fund goal of $100,000. The Abbe's September #changemakers campaign is about passionate, ambitious, and proud friends helping us inspire new learning about the Wabanaki Nations with every visit, and that also includes the Abbe Museum staff!

Our staff is stepping up to be loud, creative #changemakers. With your help we've moved the needle closer to our goal, and with gifts of $100, $500, or $1,000 we'll surely hit our mark by the end of the month. If we reach our goal, the Abbe staff is prepared to do some really creative things. Head on over to the Abbe website to find out what everyone is prepared to do!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Abbe Museum Awarded $150,000 Grant

The Abbe Museum has been awarded a $150,000 Museums for America grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The grant is 1 of 217 awarded to museum projects across the US – totaling more than $25 million – and will fund the design, fabrication, and installation of the Abbe’s new permanent exhibit, People of the First Light, which will open in the spring of 2016. 
“We are beyond excited about this opportunity, especially because of what it means for the Abbe in terms of preparing for the immediate future,” said Abbe President/CEO Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko. “During the course of the past year in planning for our new strategic plan, numerous community conversations occurred and some of those resulted in identifying specific financial sustainability strategies that influence our exhibit planning efforts. The conversations all pointed to the need for a permanent exhibit, and thanks to IMLS, we’ll be able to give our visitors and communities exactly what they asked for!”

Located in the Abbe’s downtown Bar Harbor facility, the exhibit will occupy approximately 2,100 square feet. Its content, artifacts, images, and interactive and participatory elements will be informed by the Abbe’s recently adopted interpretive framework and input from its Native Advisory Council and Native advisors.

People of the First Light will use design and content to bring the visitor into the Wabanaki universe. The cyclical nature of time will be strongly reflected in the design of the exhibit, and time depth will be presented in a non-linear pattern. The exhibit will incorporate the many ways of knowing about Wabanaki history and culture. 
“Thanks to this grant, the Abbe will enhance current and future exhibit and programmatic interpretations, expose visitors to multiple voices in presenting information about the Wabanaki people – with the Wabanaki voice as the primary one – and give visitors an understanding of how the colonization of Maine has impacted and continues to impact the Wabanaki people and their culture,” said Julia Clark, director of collections and interpretation.  

While the exhibit is considered permanent (15-20 year cycle), it will be constructed so that topics can be easily updated to reflect changing events, and the evolving conversations with Wabanaki advisors will be a guide if updates are needed. Audiences will find their experience relevant and engaging each time they visit People of the First Light.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Its mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. IMLS’s grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos II: Star Stories of the Dawnland

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Observatory Telescopes.

The Abbe Museum, the first and only Smithsonian Affiliate in the state of Maine, is pleased to announce its participation in the Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos II (YCCC II) program. By partnering with schools in the Wabanaki communities, students have the opportunity to research, learn about, and photograph the cosmos using telescopes owned and maintained by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The resulting exhibit, Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos II: Star Stories of the Dawnland, will open on September 10 to coincide with the Acadia Night Sky Festival. 
“The goal of the YCCC II program is to use hands-on exercises to teach youth how to control the MicroObservatory robotic telescopes over the internet and take their own images of the universe,” said Abbe Museum Educator George Neptune, Passamaquoddy. “Here at the Abbe, the project also encouraged students to choose subjects based on Wabanaki stories about the stars. Each student had the opportunity to research traditional stories and interpret them in a modern context using 21st century technology.”

Originally beginning as an online exhibit featuring the Indian Township School, the Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos II: Star Stories of the Dawnland exhibit features photos taken by children in the Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, Penobscot, and Micmac communities in Maine. After hearing the Wabanaki night sky stories, each student was asked to choose a photography subject that they could connect to the stories—that inspired them in some way. Once targets were chosen, students selected parameters such as exposure time, color filters, and zoom angles to ensure a high quality photo. The images were then captured by the telescopes after sunset, and emailed to the students.

Jupiter, 2014, captured by Mikey, 7th Grade, Indian Township School.

Once the students received their images, they began using the MicroObservatory Image software to edit and colorize the photos. Students were able to remove noise—extra light in the photo that did not come from celestial bodies—before sharpening the lights, changing light levels and contrast, and finally, colorizing the photos. Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos II: Star Stories of the Dawnland is open through 2016. The Abbe Museum is open seven days a week now through October.

Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos is funded by the Smithsonian Institution's Youth Access Grants program awarded by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Education and Access. The project is led by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, in partnership with Smithsonian Affiliations.

Earth’s Moon, 2014, captured by Alexis, 7th Grade, Indian Township School.

About Smithsonian Affiliations
Smithsonian Affiliations is a national outreach program that develops long-term collaborative partnerships with museums, educational, and cultural organizations to enrich communities with Smithsonian resources. More information is available at

About the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) is a joint collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. CfA scientists, organized into six research divisions, study the origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the universe. More information is available at

About the Acadia Night Sky Festival
The 7th Annual Acadia Night Sky Festival is set for September 10-14, 2015, and is already packed with a full schedule of events. With workshops, internationally recognized speakers and hands-on experiences, there truly is something for everyone from families to the serious amateur astronomer.