Reflections on a Decade Downtown

Julia Clark, Curator of Collections, began her career at the AbJulia Clarkbe Museum moving the collections from Sieur de Monts to the state of the art collections facility at the new downtown building. 10 years later, we asked Julia what possibilities became realities with the construction of the "new" Abbe Museum:

A couple of recent things come to mind that would not have been possible without the downtown Abbe:

During the field school, we had a day where the weather was too wet and cool to work on the site. We were able to bring the 20+ participants to the museum for the day to broaden their learning experience. Some worked in the archaeology lab washing and sorting artifacts. Others worked in the learning lab/family circle, identifying animal bones and describing stone arrow and spear points. At mid-day, local archaeologist and Abbe research associate Dr. Rick Will gave a flint-knapping demonstration, and both field school participants and museum guests were treated to an entertaining and informative presentation. There is no way we could have accommodated this group or shared the experience with our guests at the small museum at Sieur de Monts.

Last week I got a phone call from a basket researcher from Santa Fe who is going to be in town this week, and was hoping to take a look at our collection, especially the birch bark pieces. If we were still at Sieur de Monts, with collections stored in plastic totes in the basement, it would have taken much more time to accommodate this visit, and space would have been a major challenge. With the wonderful collections storage facility at the downtown Abbe, I will be able to bring the researcher through the collection, he will be able to see virtually every piece we have at a glance, and if he wants to take a closer look at any particular objects, we have all the space in the archaeology lab available, not just a small table in a dark basement!

Earlier this year, we were able to accept the donation of a collection of objects and associated material made by ethnohistorian and anthropologist Alvin Morrison. The collection, which features primarily Wabanaki and Iroquois objects from the second half of the 20th century, adds wonderfully to our collection, and we would not have been able to accept this collection if we did not have the collections storage space here at the downtown Abbe. A couple of real gems in the collection: a series of small-scale models of a Maliseet basket maker going through the various steps of making a basket, from harvesting the ash tree to weaving the basket; a collection of note cards sold by the Mi'kmaq at the Big Cove Reserve in New Brunswick, featuring prints designed and created by a Mi'kmaq artist, depicting Mi'kmaq stories and legends

An exhibit like Indians & Rusticators would never have been possible at the Sieur de Monts museum, and perhaps most importantly, the downtown Abbe gives local guests the chance to experience the exhibit during the off-season.