Indians and Rusticators: Wabanakis and Summer Visitors on Mount Desert Island 1840s-1920s highlights the role that Mount Desert Island played in the cultural and economic survival of the Wabanaki, the collective name for the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, and Micmac in Maine. The seasonal interactions of Wabanakis and summer rusticators, summer residents from the large urban areas of the Northeast, are explored through photographs, artifacts, and hands-on interaction.
The exhibit profiles various personalities—especially the iconic Penobscot Indian showman Frank "Big Thunder" Loring, whose unforgettable presence on Mount Desert Island spanned 60 years of the Rusticator Era, as well as noted Passamaquoddy guide and artist Tomah Joseph. Serving as guest curators for the project are Bunny McBride, MA and Dr. Harald Prins, highly regarded scholars and authors of Wabanaki history. The stories told, and research presented represent years of collective work with the four tribes in Maine, the Abbe Museum, and Acadia National Park. McBride and Prins have worked with the Abbe on a number of occasions; memorably, McBride curated The Four Mollys exhibit ten years ago when the Abbe first opened in downtown Bar Harbor.
Through images, objects and stories, Abbe visitors will enjoy learning about a layer of Mount Desert Island history that few know about. The exhibit is designed to give the visitor a "you are there" immersive experience with a replica of a Wabanaki sale tent with living space, a reproduction of the Bar Harbor wharf and a wide array of "hands-on" components. Visual images, many recently discovered, help to create a time travel-like experience. Images to look for include historicphotographs, a rare placard for an 1880 Indian performance in Bar Harbor, local period maps of Bar Harbor showing the locations of Indian encampments, drawings and etchings. A great variety of cultural artifacts sold by Wabanakis to tourists and rusticators are also featured, including basketry, bark work, wood carvings, feather work, beadwork, and quillwork. These objects help to illustrate the historical depth of the role Wabanaki art played in the cultural and economic survival of the Wabanaki people, and in making Bar Harbor a unique destination for rusticators and today's visitors.
The Abbe Museum worked with exhibition advisors James Eric Francis, Sr., Tribal Historian for the Penobscot Nation; Donald Soctomah, Tribal Historian for the Passamaquoddy Tribe; and Donna Loring, Penobscot Nation Tribal Council member and former State Legislator. Local organizations contributing to this project include the Bar Harbor Historical Society, the Mt. Desert Island Historical Society, and the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.
For more information call the Abbe Museum at 207-288-3519.
Bangor Daily News
Bar Harbor Bank & Trust
Mr. & Mrs. Douglas and Ann Sharpe
Maine Humanities Council
Mr. & Mrs. Melville Hodder
Rebecca J. MacQuinn
Anne & Fred Stocking
Ann Staples Waldron (in memory of Ed Blair)
Mr. & Mrs. John W. Ingle, Jr.
Allen Screen & Digital
Acadia National Park
Bangor Museum and Center for History
Bar Harbor Historical Society
Clark Point Gallery
Jesup Memorial Library
Maine Maritime Museum
Mount Desert Island Historical Society
Judy & Peter Obbard
Page Farm & Home Museum
Passamaquoddy Tribal Historic Preservation Office
Penobscot Marine Museum
Penobscot Nation Museum
Harald Prins & Bunny McBride
Jane K. Ryan
Raymond Strout, Ahlblad's Frame Shop
David Moses Bridges
James Eric Francis, Sr.
Maine Historic Preservation Commission
Exhibit Design By: Dru Colbert, Betts Swanton and Danielle Meier
Fabrication By: Mida's Touch