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Past Exhibits at the Abbe Museum

Abbe : Exhibits : Past Exhibits

150th Thoreau-Wabanaki Canoe Tour

July through December 2014


150th Thoreau-Wabanaki Canoe TourDuring May 2014, an epic journey took place commemorating the travels of Henry David Thoreau and his Wabanaki Guide, Joe Polis, in the Maine Woods in July of 1857. This exhibit, created by Chris Sockalexis, Penobscot Nation Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, features photographs Chris and others took during the trip, giving a glimpse into the beauty and wild nature of the Maine Woods and the Penobscot Nation's homeland. To learn more about the 150th Photo by Chris SockalexisThoreau-Wabanaki Canoe Tour, visit


Maine Woods DiscoverThe 150th Anniversary Thoreau-Wabanaki Tour

was organized as part of Maine Woods Discovery,

a project of the Maine Woods Consortium.



Kikehtahsuwiw: It Heals

150th Thoreau-Wabanaki Canoe TourDecember 2014 through April 2015


Kikehtahsuwiw is a story about several women in the Passamaquoddy Tribe, residing at both Motahkomikuk (Indian Township) and Sipayik (Pleasant Point). Each of these women shares a common goal: healing their communities. As the carriers of life, they are also carriers of culture and responsible for carrying on their healing traditions. 


Twisted Path III: Questions of Balance

Twisted Path III AIR #5 by Will WilsonAIR #5 by Will WilsonOpening February 6, 2014


Twisted Path III: Questions of Balance, invites audiences to consider Native American concerns about the environment through the medium of contemporary art. Artists’ works will express emotional and cultural reflections on the status of our planet - both comfort from a sense of place and connections to the land, and the conflicts inherent in cultural genocide and pollution of sacred spaces.


Invited artists include Gina Brooks, Gabriel Frey, Nicholas Galanin, Shan Goshorn, Vera Longtoe Sheehan, Patricia Michaels, Shane Perley-Dutcher, and guest curator and artist Rick Hunt.


Learn more about the exhibit and the artists >


This is exhibit is made possible thanks to support from:

Sharpe Family Foundation/Douglas and Ann Sharpe

Anonymous Foundation

Fisher Charitable Foundation

Hattie A. & Fred C. Lynam Trust


Lead Corporate Sponsor:


with additional support from:


Funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency
supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.



2014 Waponahki Student Art Show

Waponahki Student ArtApril 17 through October 31, 2014

A collaboration of Maine Indian Education and the Abbe Museum.


The Waponahki Student Art Show brings together a wonderful variety of art created by Passamaquoddy and Penobscot students from early childhood education through high school. Using a wide array of media, these young artists incorporate traditional beliefs and values with the modern, multi-cultural world around them.


Special thanks to K.A. McDonald Custom Picture Framing, Bar Harbor


N'tolonapemk: Our Relatives' Place

N'tolonapemkNovember 2, 2012 through April 2014


Native Americans have lived on Meddybemps Lake at its outlet to the Dennys River for at least 8,600 years. The Passamaquoddy people have named this site N'tolonapemk, which in Passamaquoddy means, "Our Relatives' Place."


This exhibit tells the story of N'tolonapemk through archaeological evidence and the stories and knowledge of the Passamaquoddy people. The scientific methods used by archaeologists, contrasted with traditional Passamaquoddy stories, work together to create a more complete picture and a richer understanding of this important place.


Learn more about N'tolonapemk:

A Visit to Our Ancestors' Place >

N'tolonapemk: An Ancient Native American Village on Meddybemps Lake, Maine >


This exhibit is made possible thanks to support from:

Machias Savings Bank Maine Humanities Council

EASTER Foundation/Anne and Fred Osborn III



Wabanaki Guides

Wabanaki GuidesIllustration derived from a photograph courtesy of David Moses BridgesFebruary 7 through December 28, 2013


Wabanaki Guides focuses on the legacy of Wabanaki people serving as guides for European and American explorers, cartographers, tourists and artists from the 1600s to the present day. Visitors will be invited along for a simulated canoe ride down a Maine river. The journey will shine a spotlight on ways in which Wabanaki knowledge of land and waterways influenced Maine’s early visitors and illustrate how this legacy is linked to the modern-day tribes, tourism and environmental sustainability in Maine.


Visitors will “climb into a canoe with their guide” and begin their journey. Along the way, they will stop at “portages” on the river bank. At each portage, visitors will learn about the various things a guide needs to consider when planning a trip and what one might expect to encounter along the way. The exhibit will focus on the following themes: mapping, tracking, tourism and economics. Stories and historic accounts from various view points will weave throughout the exhibit incorporating the voices of Wabanaki guides both past and present as well as explorers, artists and cartographers such as Henry David Thoreau and Joseph Treat.


2013 Waponahki Student Art Show

Waponahki Student ArtApril 18 through December 28, 2013

A collaboration of Maine Indian Education and the Abbe Museum.


The Waponahki Student Art Show brings together a wonderful variety of art created by Passamaquoddy and Penobscot students from early childhood education through high school. Using a wide array of media, these young artists incorporate traditional beliefs and values with the modern, multi-cultural world around them.


Special thanks to K.A. McDonald Custom Picture Framing, Bar Harbor




IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas

IndiVisibleMay 23 through August 4, 2013


From the Smithsonian comes an important and enlightening exhibition about the intersection of American Indian and African American people and cultures. IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas explores historical and contemporary stories of peoples and communities whose shared histories are woven into the fabric of American identity, but whose presence has long been invisible to many in the U.S. The exhibition sheds light on the dynamics of race, community, culture and creativity, and addresses the human desire to belong. With compelling text and powerful graphics, the exhibition includes accounts of cultural integration and diffusion as well as the struggle to define and preserve identity. IndiVisible was developed by the National Museum of the American Indian with the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.


Visit IndiVisible on the web >




Indians & Rusticators: Wabanakis & Summer Visitors on Mt. Desert Island 1840s-1920s

July 8, 2011 through December 29, 2012

Indians & Rusticators Cover

Winner of a 2012 Leadership in History Award

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 Wabanakis (the collective name for Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Indians). Offering a focused look at the seasonal interactions of Wabanakis and summer rusticators (summer residents from the large urban areas of the Northeast), it will profile 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. The stories told and research presented is the work of
Bunny McBride, MA and Dr. Harald Prins, highly regarded scholars and authors of Wabanaki history. They are serving as guest curators for the project. Click here for more info >

Visit the online exhibit >

Image courtesy of the Maine
Historic Preservation Commission

Transcending Traditions: The Next Generation and Maine Indian Basketry

May 24 through December 29, 2012

Image courtesy of the Hudson Museum

Transcending Traditions features five contemporary Maine Indian basketmakers representing the next generation: Jeremy Frey, Ganessa Bryant, Sarah Sockbeson, George Neptune and Eric “Otter” Bacon. This project explores the new directions that these innovative artists are taking the tradition in the face of environmental and economic challenges.


Visit the online catalog for Transcending Traditions >


This exhibit was created as a collaboration between the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance and the Hudson Museum, supported by a grant
from the National Museum of the American Indian's Indigenous Contemporary Arts Program.

Learn more about the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance.

Learn more about the Hudson Museum.


2012 Waponahki Student Art Show

April 20 through October 22, 2012

Waponahki Student Art

A collaboration of Maine Indian Education and the Abbe Museum.

The Waponahki Student Art Show brings together a wonderful variety of art created by Passamaquoddy and Penobscot students from early childhood education through high school. Using a wide array of media, these young artists incorporate traditional beliefs and values with the modern, multi-cultural world around them. Visit the online 2012 Waponahki Student Art Show >


Special thanks to K.A. McDonald Custom Picture Framing, Bar Harbor


Twisted Path II: Contemporary Native American Art Informed by Tradition

October 21, 2011 through May 2012

Twisted Path II

An invitational contemporary art show featuring Native artists from the Northeast.

Rick Hunt, Abenaki, Guest Curator

Featured Artists:

Rhonda Besaw, Abenaki, Beadwork  website
George Neptune, Passamaquoddy, Basketry
Max Romero, Mi'kmaq & Laguna/Taos Pueblo, Installation
Leon Sockbeson, Passamaquoddy, Couture
Sarah Sockbeson, Penobscot, Painting & Basketry



Made possible in part by: 




and the Fisher Charitable Foundation


2011 Student Art Show

2011 Waponahki Student Art Show

April 21 through October 11, 2011

A collaboration of Maine Indian Education and the Abbe Museum.

The Waponahki Student Art Show brings together a wonderful variety of art created by Passamaquoddy and Penobscot students from early childhood education through high school. Using a wide array of media, these young artists incorporate traditional beliefs and values with the modern, multi-cultural world around them.


Special thanks to K.A. McDonald Custom Picture Framing, Bar Harbor.


Visit the online 2011 Waponahki Student Art Show >




Wedding DressIn the Words of Our Friends



The Abbe Museum collects, preserves, and interprets artifacts made by Wabanaki people. Some are thousands of years old, and others were created by artists this year. These items inspire our staff, visitors, and volunteers, and often excite people to want to learn more. Engagement and passion for the mission of the Abbe, and the art and culture of Wabanaki people has brought the Museum many friends.


In the Words of Our Friends features an item, or collection of items, that have inspired our volunteers, trustees, and friends. In their words, each person explains why they are inspired by the Abbe and the artifacts on display. We will rotate new artifacts into the case every couple of months. If you’re interested in participating, ask how at the front desk.





2011 Student Art Show

Objects of Our Affection

September 2009 through October 2011

We all know that museums are the caretakers of a wide variety of objects, archives, and art. This exhibit looks at how museums care for their collections, and protect them from the affects of agents of deterioration such as light, humidity, fire and pests. At the same time, museum staff must balance the needs of an object with the educational mission of the museum. At the end of the day, however, the museum staff love their collections and are tasked with protecting them from the myriad threats they face.


Air Pollution, Pests, Water Damage, Light, Mechanical Damage, Fire, Patina, Humidity and Temperature.


Would you like to learn more about how you can care for your collections?

Follow these links for lists of additional resources:

Caring for Photographs

Headline News Front Page

Headline News: Wabanaki Sovereignty in the 21st Century

February 26, 2010 through May 27, 2011

Headline News: Wabanaki Sovereignty in the 21st Century is a ground breaking exhibit inspired by news headlines of the past twenty years. Through a combination of actual news headlines and first person voice of Wabanaki leaders, the exhibit explores eight topics frequently covered in the news.


View the Headline News online exhibit >

Exhibit overview and printable exhibit text >

Headline News Front Page

Aunt Lu: The Story of Princess Watahwaso

October 28, 2010 through April 4, 2011

In this exhibit you will meet Lucy Nicolar, a Penobscot performer known by her stage name, Princess Watahwaso, but affectionately referred to by everyone as Aunt Lu. Born in 1882 on Indian Island, Nicolar was a renowned performer and activist. She was also part of an important family in the Penobscot Nation. Her father, Joseph Nicolar, was author of the book, The Life and Traditions of the Red Man, her sister, Florence Nicolar Shay, was a basket maker and activist, and her nephew Charles Shay, was recently awarded the French Legion of Honor for his heroic service in WWII. The show is curated by the Penobscot Cultural and Historic Preservation Department, and the exhibit traces the legacy of Nicolar and her influence on the Penobscot community to this day. Through the story of Nicolar and her family, visitors will also learn more about the 20th century history of the Penobscot Nation.

Headline News Front Page

Arthur & Nita Wood Artifacts Collection


In 2007, Arthur and Nita Wood of Brooklin, Maine donated a significant portion of their archaeological collection to the Abbe Museum, consisting of stone and bone tools, arrowheads, and pottery fragments. Amateur collectors for several decades, the Woods gathered up well over a thousand Native American objects from Naskeag Point.


Headline News Front Page

2010 Waponahki Student Art Show

April 22nd, 2010 through October 11th, 2010

This annual exhibit provides Waponahki youth a chance to share their creativity and feelings with the people of Maine and beyond. Native children have a unique culture and outlook on life from which to draw inspiration and the pride in their heritage is clearly evident in the works of art that make up this exhibition. From whimsical to spiritual, simple to serious, the opportunity to be creative and to share that with the public gives these students a chance to express themselves in a way that they feel comfortable with.


As Beth Clifford, Curriculum Coordinator for Maine Indian Education affirms, "The Waponahki Student Art Show provides the students of Maine Indian Education with an opportunity unlike any other. Imagine the look on the
students' faces when they step into the Abbe Museum to see, for the first time, their own artwork framed and/or displayed as it would be in any museum setting! The sense of pride and feelings of accomplishment are beyond description…the exhibition and reception hosted by the Abbe Museum lives on in the memories of the children for many, many years."

Look Twice

Look Twice: The Waponahki in Image and Verse

October 2009 through April 2010

Many different types of images relating to Maine's Tribal History exist which are seldom seen except by researchers and scholars In the field. In addition, the general public is seldom given a broader cultural context in which to view them. Providing contemporary poetry, written by Mikhu Paul-Anderson from Kingsclear First Nations, will simultaneously alter and reframe the context of those images, in effect, mediating the historical gaze of a marginalized people.


The prose that accompanies each image is one method of bringing history into the present moment, supporting another possible view of that history. The connection between past and present is then strengthened, and new ways of understanding history hopefully result.


Mikhu Paul-Anderson is a Native American woman, author and curator of this exhibit and grew up in Old Town, Maine.

Look Twice

Blanket Stories by Marie Watt

Twisted Path: Native American Artists Walking in Two Worlds

December 4, 2008-January 5, 2010

Featuring ten contemporary Native artists, this invitational exhibition features artwork that reflects personal stories about tribal identity and balancing life in a complex world.


The title Twisted Path is based on a traditional beadwork pattern of the same name, describing a back and forth or meandering quality. It is symbolic of Native artists alternating between two cultures, striving to preserve historical and spiritual traditions while experiencing modern lifestyles and new art forms.


Artists include Watie Akins (Penobscot), Pam Cunningham (Penobscot), Nicholas Galanin (Tlingit), Rick Hunt (Abenaki), George Longfish (Seneca/Tuscarora), Teresa Marshall (Mikmaq), Lenny Novak (Abenaki), Cheryl Savageau (Abenaki), Susie Silook (Yupik/Inupiaq), and Marie Watt (Seneca).

Gossiping Blue Birds

2009 Waponahki Student Art Show

April 23 - September 30, 2009

The Abbe Museum in collaboration with Maine Indian Education is honored

to present the 2009 Waponahki Student Art Show. This marks the eighth

year of this popular annual exhibition of artworks by young Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Artists. These annual exhibitions demonstrate a strong purposeful partnership and an outstanding collaboration of two institutions devoted to promoting art education and Waponahki culture.


Gossiping Blue Birds

North by Notheast:Wabanaki, Akwesasne Mohawk and Tuscarora Traditional Arts

October 9, 2008 - September 16, 2009

For generations, Native American traditional artists in the Northeast have passed on their culture through beadwork, basketry, birchbark, and woodcarving.


Organized and curated by Kathleen Mundell, this traveling exhibition sponsored by Cultural Resources, Inc. presents these traditions through

the work and words of over thirty-five traditional artists living and working primarily in Maine and upstate New York. In the creative hands of those

who continue to practice them, these arts reflect the values and traditions

of contemporary communities with each generation recasting old forms into new expressions.


Gossiping Blue Birds

By Native Hands: Woven Treasures from the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art

July 3, 2008 – November 9, 2008

This exhibition of some 60 baskets included examples from over 40 North American tribes of bowls, burden baskets, fancy baskets, baby baskets, bags, trays, hats, miniatures, and gathering baskets.


Gossiping Blue Birds

2008 Wabanaki Student Art Show

April 3 – July 6, 2008


The exhibition showcases a variety of artwork by young Penobscot and Passamaquoddy students from early childhood education through the

eighth grade, as well as a number of pieces created by Penobscot and Passamaquoddy high school students.

Dial: (207) 288-3519


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