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

Abbe Museum Receives Grant to Lower Energy Costs

The Abbe Museum recently received a grant from Grants to Green Maine to provide an energy efficiency audit for the Abbe’s historic downtown Bar Harbor location. This grant complements the Museum’s Greening the Abbe Initiative, and the near completion of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) funded projects that have helped reduce the Abbe's carbon footprint and operating costs.
“The Grants to Green Maine grant will enable the Abbe to complete an energy efficiency audit of our building and provide a report with priorities for energy efficiency improvements,” said Abbe Museum President/CEO Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko. “Higher heating bills have decreased the amount of money we can put towards our mission of preserving and exhibiting the regional history of the area and it is important to make our building more efficient, which will in turn make our organization more sustainable.”
The Greening the Abbe initiative was launched in 2012 with the over-arching goal to make the Abbe environmentally responsible and sustainable. Thanks to 43 generous donors and a grant from the NEH, funds were contributed to “Green the Abbe Museum” in three phases, and efforts immediately resulted in lowering energy consumption by 20%, saving about $500 per month. Greening initiatives included:

  • Replacement of the system control software that regulates the heating and cooling in the Abbe Museum downtown. 
  • Installed ultraviolet filters in one of the Museum’s galleries, which now allows use of this space for exhibits.
  • The Abbe’s 2013 exhibit, Wabanaki Guides, was built with 80% of materials from a prior exhibit, 10% was repurposed to improve storage organization in the exhibit prep space, and 2% was recycled, leaving only 8% for disposal.
  • High wattage incandescent lighting in the Abbe’s Main Gallery was replaced with efficient LED lighting that not only means substantial electricity savings, but is also safer for the fragile objects on exhibit and provides a better quality of lighting.
  • A shift from printed material to electronic communications with our members and the community wherever possible, to reduce the use of paper.

The Abbe Museum’s downtown Bar Harbor location at 26 Mount Desert Street is an 1893 landmark. In 1997, the Abbe purchased the former YMCA building and renovated and expanded it to create a 17,000-square-foot museum with spacious exhibition galleries, indoor and outdoor program spaces, a research lab, and state-of-the-art collections storage.

Interested in supporting the Greening the Abbe campaign? Contact Heather Anderson, director of advancement at (207) 288-3519 or by email at

About Grants to Green Maine
Grants to Green Maine provides environmentally focused knowledge and funding to strengthen nonprofits located in historic buildings in downtowns in Maine. Grants to Green Maine is a partnership between the Maine Development Foundation’s Maine Downtown Center, Efficiency Maine and the Maine Community Foundation, and is funded by Kendeda Fund of The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.

About the Abbe Museum
The mission of the Abbe Museum, now Maine’s first Smithsonian Affiliate, is to inspire new learning about the Wabanaki Nations with every visit. The Abbe has a collection of over 50,000 archaeological, historic and contemporary objects including stone and bone tools, pottery, beadwork, carved root clubs, birch bark canoes, and supporting collections of photographs, maps, and archival documents. It holds the largest and best-documented collection of Maine Native American basketry in any museum. Its collections conservation program is recognized nationally as a model for museums. The Abbe’s two locations - downtown Bar Harbor and at Sieur de Monts Spring in Acadia National Park - are now open daily from 10 am – 5 pm.