Come Meet our New Education Team

There are some new faces at the Abbe Museum! We've scheduled two specific programs that will enable you all to meet Starr Kelly, our new Curator of Education, and Angela Raup, our new Manager of Guest Experience. 

On Wednesday, April 12th from 3:30 - 5 pm, all local educators are invited to come explore our collection of educational materials, join our Book Club, and offer feedback on past and future programs. Expect great conversation, light refreshments, and surprise get-to-know-you activities!

On Thursday, April 20th from 12 - 2 pm, the local community is invited to come and participate in a white glove artifact experience and learn about upcoming Abbe events. There will even be a specially curated exhibit for you to explore and get to know the new team. Light refreshments will be served. Free and open to the public. 

October at the Abbe

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 theMount 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, orwikhikonik, 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 andBar Harbor Children's Book Festival —and afree 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 theWaponahki Student Art Show (which closes the end of this month),  The Greatest Mountain, orLayers 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 youRSVP online. Check out theBHFF 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 ofContinuity, Change, and Resistance . The first film, Weaving Worlds, is a documentary about Diné (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.

A Pop Up Program at the Abbe will focus on one of the first transoceanic ships

The Abbe Museum will host a Pop Up Program by Xabier Agote from the ALBAOLA, Basque Maritime Heritage Foundation on Thursday, August 20 from 7 – 9 pm. The discussion will focus on 16th century Basque whalers in North America and the San Juan whaleship replica currently being built in Spain. The program is free and open to the public.

“We are really just beginning to get a better understanding of how important the interactions between the Wabanaki and the Basque were, and how they shaped the longer history of interaction and colonization,” said Julia Clark, director of collections & interpretation at the Abbe Museum. “This program is a great opportunity to learn more about the Basque side of the story.”

Built in Pasaia - which is located in the Basque Autonomous Community of northern Spain - in 1563, the San Juan whaling ship is an example of the first transoceanic ships that set sail from the Basque Country to Newfoundland. It reflects the splendor and worldwide domination of the Basque maritime industry. It sank off the coast of Canada, in Red Bay, in 1565.

Over 400 years later in 1978, the Canadian archaeological team from Parcs Canada found the wreck of the San Juan and investigated it in an exemplary underwater excavation for the maritime archaeological world. After studying it for more than thirty years, it is the best known 16th century ship and has become an icon symbolizing UNESCO Underwater Cultural Heritage.

The Nao San Juan reconstruction began in 2013 in Pasaia within the Donostia/San Sebastián European Capital of Culture 2016, and is backed by the Canadian Government. Just as it joined Europe with North America in the 16th century, the Nao San Juan will allow these two countries to sail into the future together working from their joint past.

Xabier Agote is a shipwright and specializes in the construction of traditional and historical boats. He is the Founder and Director of ALBAOLA, where he has developed a research and education program that includes the construction of Nao San Juan; built a school for boat-building and seamanship; and generated a revival of public awareness of the long and rich Basque relationship with the sea. He is a graduate of the apprentice program at the Maine Maritime Museum, built several gigs for the Atlantic Challenge International Seamanship Program for The ApprenticeShop, Rockland, and has led several open boat expeditions along the coasts of Canada, Ireland, and Spain.

Wabanaki Antiques Expo

During the Wabanaki Antiques Expo held on Saturday, May 9th, four Master artists from the Wabanaki communities assembled to allow Abbe visitors to pick their brains for knowledge on pieces that wereor in some cases, were notmade by Wabanaki people. The panel included Master Basketmaker and beadworker Jennifer Neptune, Penobscot; Master Basketmaker Richard Silliboy, Micmac; Master Birchbark worker David Moses Bridges, Passamaquoddy; and Master Basketmaker and Museum Educator George Neptune, Passamaquoddy.

A wide range of objects were brought before the panel in hopes of having them identified. Tucked among several beaded "flapper" adornments and a few pieces of southwestern pottery were a few objects that piqued the panels' interest: the first object being a seal-skin belt, likely dating back to the Indian Encampments of Bar Harbor, making it easily one hundred years old.

While other objects were identified as "non-Wabanaki," including a shaker-style basket and several pieces of Southwestern pottery, many Wabanaki basketsboth utility and fancy styleswere brought in to be identified. While it's difficult to identify work by specific artists, the panelists were able to identify which tribes the baskets came from based on aesthetic trends from each community. The basket that brought up the most discussion: a red "sweetgrass flat" style purse with woven ash handles. A Potawatomi flute that dates back to the early 1800s also garnered a lot of discussion, and even some playing!

Hawk Henries, a member of the Nipmuck tribe, brought the flute in for the panelists to inspect. Hawk has a lot of experience enchanting audiences with flutes; he also crafts his own eastern woodlands flutes (out of a single piece of wood!). 

The final object discussed by the panel was a beaded leather jacket. According to the oral histories around the item, it was constructed nearly two-hundred years ago, with the beadwork eventually being added by an Ojibwe beadworker. Jennifer Neptune confirmed that the beadwork was in the Ojibwe style, however, the presence of thread in the seams and use of trade-cloth and "greased" beads led panelists to believe that the jacket was made after the Civil War when thread became much more accessible for Native peoples.

The Abbe Museum Educators Take to the High Seas

On a blustery day in March, the Abbe Museum's education team met with Maine Sea Coast Mission's Douglas Cornman in the sunny wheelhouse of the M/V Sunbeam to discuss an exciting opportunity: was there a way to bring a bit of the Abbe to the outer island communities? Yes! Once all the logistics were hammered out, Museum Educators George and Jen grabbed two pack baskets and filled them with all kinds of interesting objects - from fancy baskets to stone arrow heads - and hopped aboard. Destination: Isle au Haut and Frenchboro!

They never expected the huge turnout that greeted them as they set up at the Isle au Haut community center, where George regaled the crowd with legends of Gluskap and how rabbit came to look the way he does today. At the end of the program, Jen and George answered questions about all the objects they brought with them. Later that afternoon, Douglas, George, and Jen searched out the famous Black Dinah Chocolatiers, where they scored some free samples before purchasing some goodies to take home. Isle au Haut residents spent the evening visiting aboard the Sunbeam where Jillian, the ship's steward, cooked a fabulous dinner with help from some eager sous chefs. After visiting well into the night, George and Jen retired to their boat beds.

Early the next morning, George and Jen shoved off for Frenchboro and another great reception at the island's school. They talked about what life was like for the Wabanaki 400 years ago before launching into more storytelling. After George captivated everyone with the feasting song, they all ventured to the Sunbeam for lunch, including cookies for dessert.

Where will the Sunbeam take Jen and George next?

A Look at the Abbe's March Programs

Passamaquoddy Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Donald Soctomah visited the Abbe on March 19th to talk about Tomah Joseph, a famous birchbark worker from the Passamaquoddy community at Indian Township. Often featuring depictions of Passamaquoddy oral histories, Joseph’s work was sought after by museums and private collectors all over the world; even Franklin D. Roosevelt owned some of Joseph’s pieces. Soctomah is an expert on Tomah Joseph’s history and work, and has even written a children’s book about the birchbark worker’s friendship with FDR, called Remember Me.

In the first event of its kind at the Abbe, Museum Educator and Kikehtahsuwiw: It Heals Curator George Neptune, Passamaquoddy, coordinated a Wabanaki women’s dialogue and panel discussion focused on the roles of women in Wabanaki and other cultures. We had an amazing turnout and a great discussion!

March Events at the Abbe

Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Mt. Desert Community Progressive Dinner
March on Mt. Desert Community Progressive Dinner
5:00 - 7:30 pm

Join Mount Desert Street neighbors as we celebrate our community with
this annual progressive dinner.

  • 5:15-5:30 pm at Abbe Museum: Conners-Emerson Play
  • 5:30-6:00 pm at YWCA: Hors d'oeuvres
  • 6:00-6:30 pm at St. Saviour's Church: Salad
  • 6:30-7:00 pm at Jesup Memorial Library: Soup & Bread
  • 7:00-7:30 pm at Congregational Church: Dessert. 

Free, open to the public

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
5:30 -7:00 pm

The PKMDI spring session will feature eight presentations, 6 minutes 20 seconds each (20 slides x 20 seconds), and will be emceed by Lyzz Bien. Midway through the presentations we'll break for an intermission.

Free and open to the public.
Location: Reel Pizza Cinerama, 33 Kennebec Place, Bar Harbor

Thursday, March 19, 2015
Coming Home Brown Bag Lunch Series with Donald Soctomah, Passamaquoddy Tribal Historic Preservation Officer
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Join us for the second program in our Brown Bag Lunch series with Passamaquoddy Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Donald Soctomah. The Coming Home exhibit features several etched birchbark pieces made by Tomah Joseph—a famous birchbark worker from the Passamaquoddy community at Indian Township. Often featuring depictions of Passamaquoddy oral histories, Joseph’s work was sought after by museums and private collectors all over the world-even Franklin D. Roosevelt owned some of Joseph’s pieces. Soctomah is an expert on Tomah Joseph’s history and work, and has even written a children’s book about the birchbark worker’s friendship with FDR, called Remember Me.

Free and open to the public.
Location: Abbe Museum Downtown

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Wabanaki Women’s Dialogue and Panel Discussion
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

In the first half of this program, join Museum Educator and Kikehtahsuwiw: It Heals Curator George Neptune, Passamaquoddy, and other museum visitors in a dialogue focused on the roles of women in Wabanaki and other cultures. Then, join a panel of Wabanaki women for a discussion of the Kikehtahsuwiw: It Heals exhibit, and how the traditional role of women in Wabanaki cultures informs their contemporary work within the Passamaquoddy community.

Free and open to the public.
Location: Abbe Museum Downtown

Saturday, March 28, 2015
Winter in the Dawnland Storytelling and Craft Activity with Museum Educator George Neptune, Passamaquoddy
10:00 am - 12:00 pm

For the final program in the Winter in the Dawnland series, join Museum Educator George Neptune, Passamaquoddy, to hear Wabanaki stories about Koluskap and the creation of the Wabanaki people. When Koluskap came to this land, there were no people here, so he took an arrow and shot a brown ash tree. From that tree, the Wabanaki people were born. To this day, Wabanaki people use strips of brown ash to weave their baskets. In the second part of the program, you will also have the opportunity to weave with ash and make your own woven bookmark to use while you wait for next year’s series!

Registration required, space limited. Recommended for families.

For more information, or to register, contact Museum Educator George Neptune, (207) 288-3519 or
Location: Abbe Museum Downtown

Don't Miss Out on Our Winter Break Programs

February 17th from 10 am - 3 pm
Coming Home Children's Workshop with Museum Educator George Neptune, Passamaquoddy

In this workshop, learn to make your own miniature beaded bag out of cloth, glass beads, and silk ribbon. This workshop will require the use of sharp needles, so is recommended for older children and teens. Registration required, space limited. To register, contact Museum Educator George Neptune, (207) 288-3519 or

February 18th from 10 am - 12 pm
Winter in the Dawnland Storytelling and Craft Activity with Museum Educator George Neptune, Passamaquoddy

For the third program in the Winter in the Dawnland series, hear stories about the first treaties to be made in the Dawnland. Registration required, space limited. Recommended for families. To register, contact George at (207) 288-3519 or

February 19th from 12 - 1 pm
Coming Home Brown Bag Lunch Series with Jennifer Neptune, Penobscot

In our first Brown Bag Lunch of the 2015 series, join us as Penobscot beadworker Jennifer Neptune discusses and demonstrates her work replicating an historic Penobscot Chief's collar. Free and open to the public.

Learn more about our February Programs.

Winter in the Dawnland

On December 14 from 10:00 am-12:00 pm, Abbe Museum Educator George Neptune will lead the final program of the Winter in the Dawnland series. Neptune will share Wabanaki stories about the stars, exploring their significance within Dawnland cultures, and will then lead participants in the creation of their own paper stars.

Free and open to the public (great for families) but note that space is limited