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 visi 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, visi