The Abbe Museum, the first and only Smithsonian Affiliate in the state of Maine, will open its 2015 feature exhibit, Coming Home, on February 5, 2015. This exciting and beautiful exhibit reveals a greater depth of information about historical Wabanaki objects through the traditional knowledge of working with Native community curators.
“This exhibit is not only a chance to learn through traditional and cultural knowledge, but to see amazing objects that are coming back to Maine after decades or centuries away,” said Julia Clark, director of collections & interpretation. “Wabanaki community curators chose an intriguing and diverse selection of objects, many very different from those in the Abbe's collection. This exhibit is a unique opportunity for our visitors to learn about Wabanaki culture directly from Wabanaki people and objects, rather than filtered through the lens of the museum curator.”From baskets to beadwork, woodcarvings to birchbark canoes, tools or artwork, many pieces of Wabanaki material culture have ended up in museums far away from the Wabanaki homeland, where it is difficult for community members to see these pieces of their history and culture. In recent years, the Abbe has spoken with several Wabanaki people about Micmac, Maliseet, Penobscot, and Passamaquoddy collections residing in museums outside of Maine, and whether it would it be possible to bring pieces “home” for a while so that community members could study them more closely.
Wabanaki community curators worked with Abbe curatorial staff to select and borrow objects from museums in the northeastern United States between Philadelphia and Maine. Throughout the exhibit, community curators share thoughts, ideas, and perspectives about the objects they selected, which broadens the interpretation and enriches understanding.
“Familiar objects can often trigger memories and spur curiosity,” said Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, Abbe Museum’s president and CEO. “It’s the Abbe’s hope that this exhibit is a beginning, and that there will be future exhibits where pieces journey back from farther afield - across the United States and Canada, into Europe, and perhaps beyond.”An opening reception, which is free and open to the public, will be held on February 5, 2015 from 5 – 7 pm.
Coming Home will be in the main gallery through the end of the year. Winter hours are Thursday through Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is free through April thanks to the generosity of Machias Savings Bank.