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Indians & Rusticators:
Wabanakis and Summer Visitors on Mount Desert Island 1840s-1920s

Abbe : Exhibits : Indians and Rusticators Exhibit

July 8, 2011 - December 28, 2012

Poster for Indians and Rusticators

Image courtesy of the Maine
Historic Preservation Commmission


Winner of a 2012 Leadership in History Award


Visit the online Indians & Rusticators exhibit >


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.


StarThrough 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 historic Image courtesy of the Maine
Historic Preservation Commmission
photographs, 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.


Visit the online Indians & Rusticators exhibit >


This exhibit was made possible thanks to the following individuals, foundations, organizations and businesses:


Image courtesy of the New
Brunswick Museum

Davis Foundation - Fisher Charitable Foundation


Alice and Brad Wellman

Sandy Wilcox and Jack Russell


Bangor Daily News

Bar Harbor Bank & Trust

Lynam Trust

Mr. & Mrs. Douglas and Ann Sharpe


Maine Humanities Council

Sylvia Cough

Mr. & Mrs. Melville Hodder

Rebecca J. MacQuinn

Dorothy Pulis

Anne & Fred Stocking

Ann Staples Waldron (in memory of Ed Blair)

Mr. & Mrs. John W. Ingle, Jr.


Allen Screen & Digital


These individuals and organizations generously loaned items for the exhibit:

Acadia National Park

Bangor Museum and Center for History

Bar Harbor Historical Society

Will Channing

Clark Point Gallery

Davistown Museum

Gretchen Faulkner

Hudson Museum

Jesup Memorial Library

Candis Joyce

Laureen LaBar

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

Donald Soctomah


Special thanks to:

Earl Brechlin

David Moses Bridges

James Eric Francis, Sr.

Harper's Magazine

Darren Ranco

Theresa Secord

Donald Soctomah

Donna Loring

Dee Lustusky

Maine Historic Preservation Commission


Exhibit Design By: Dru Colbert, Betts Swanton and Danielle Meier

Fabrication By: Mida's Touch




Dial: (207) 288-3519


Directions: see the map

More information: click here