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People of the First Light, the Abbe Museum’s new core exhibit, introduces visitors to the Wabanaki universe, engaging them with the culture and history of a people that is unfamiliar to many. Bringing together oral traditions, personal stories, cultural knowledge, language, and historical accounts with objects, photographs, multi-media, and digital interactives, People of the First Light shares a wide variety of content and perspectives around more than 12,000 years of history, conflict, adaptation, and survival in the Wabanaki homeland.
The design of the exhibit space has been developed with a contemporary feel, shaped by the work of Wabanaki artists who have been a part of the design process from the beginning. The central piece of the exhibit will be a two-story sculptural ash tree that will draw the various sections of the exhibit together. Artwork and illustrations by Maliseet artist Gina Brooks and Penobscot artist Sarah Sockbeson are the foundation of a visual experience that reflects both Wabanaki traditions and current experiences.
Key goals for People of the First Light include:
September 10, 2015 through 2016
In affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution
Four Directions of Wabanaki Basketry, located in our unique Circle of the Four Directions, offers a place of quiet reflection for visitors to the Museum. The exhibit features a basket from each of the Wabanaki tribal communities: the eastern basket made by a Maliseet child, the southern baskets made by Passamaquoddy women, the western basket made by a Penobscot man, and the northern basket by a Micmac elder. Visitors will also hear the creation story of Koluskap and the Ash Tree in the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy/Maliseet, and Micmac languages.
Made possible through the generosity of John and Ruth Overton.
In 1613, a small group of French Jesuits, sailors and settlers arrived at Mount Desert Island, looking for a place to establish a mission and build trade relations with the Wabanaki. At the urging of Wabanaki leader Asticou, the group chose a spot somewhere around Frenchman Bay to establish their new outpost. Less than three months later, the fledgling settlement was destroyed by English colonists from further south. Echoes of these encounters continue to resound today, in Wabanaki communities, in shaping Maine history and identity, and in our understanding of international relations.
The first European residents of Frenchman Bay came and went in a very short time. But this episode is part of a much larger story of Wabanaki-French-English interactions in eastern Maine from 1500 until 1762, when English settlers finally established a permanent settlement on Mount Desert Island. The exhibit brings together current Wabanaki perspectives and historic documents to present multiple perspectives on history, and investigates the debate among historians and archaeologists about where the St. Sauveur Mission was actually located. Hands-on, interactive activities for children and families accompany the exhibit.
Visit the original Abbe Museum, built as a trailside museum in 1928.The exhibits focus on the archaeology of Maine and are reminiscent of the way the museum would have looked when it originally opened. See how bone and stone tools and pottery were made, explore artifacts from the museum's early collections, and find examples of artifacts from many towns around eastern Maine.
An introductory exhibit gives you a brief history of the Abbe Museum, and is complimented by a giant map of Mount Desert Island and the surrounding area, made by museum founder Robert Abbe. A visitor favorite, four dioramas depict life on Mount Desert Island before the arrival of Europeans.
The Abbe at Sieur de Monts Spring is open daily 10-5 from late May through early October.