A: Opportunities for Learning

There are expanded opportunities for learning from the Wabanaki people at the Museum, in the community, and virtually.


• Work with the Native Advisory Council and Board of Trustees to develop processes and protocols for public education on legal, policy, and social issues

• Develop resources and educational materials on core issues or questions related to decolonization for the general public and teachers

• Actively support and contribute to professional development opportunities for the Museum and archaeology and anthropology communities regarding decolonization

• Develop and support dialogue-based programming that considers difficult topics; support people as they engage in these conversations

• Overhaul web presence to be more responsive and better integrated with social media strategies

• Complete new permanent exhibition that includes interpretive content accessible on personal devices


• Restructure our public program series with a focus on Native-led programming and dialogue-based programs

• Make public programs more accessible virtually

• Create or contribute to a network of organizations working on decolonizing museum practice

• Develop plans for the use of the backyard to support programming


• Expand the use of interpretive content accessible on personal devices throughout the facilities and for temporary exhibitions

• Increase education outreach to schools and teachers   

• Develop a seasonal artist in residence program and secure studio space

• Create more satellite and virtual exhibits


  • The finalization of the strategic plan followed the creation of an interpretive framework in 2014 that was shaped by the Native Advisory Council and key stakeholders. This guided the creation of the new core exhibit: People of the First Light which opened to great acclaim in 2016.
  • We have thoughtfully tried, added, evaluated, and abandoned educational programming ideas and strategies since 2009. With the staff trained in facilitated dialogue now, our programs are more dynamic and meaningful. We have successfully sustained a year-round educational programming schedule in tandem with a busy classroom schedule in school districts across Maine. Since 2016, the team has grown program audiences 104%. From 2017 to 2018, the numbers increased 58%!
  • Of particular note is a deepened connection to MDI schools which was in development prior to the strategic plan’s implementation. The current Education Team is taking their work to a new level as their education plan is unveiled in spring 2019, building on their significant expansion of audience. The Education Team is also working on refining the 2016 Social Studies Collaboratory toolkit we helped create for the Mount Desert Island Regional School System with the help of volunteers. Additionally, the Education Team is part of a task group working on Wabanaki curriculum development with the Portland Public School System.
  • In 2018, the Abbe Museum was awarded a three-year, nearly $170,000 grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services to develop the Museum Decolonization Institute (MuseDI). We will do this work with the support and advice of Wabanaki people and with an integrated group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who are museum professionals and expert advisors called our Methodology and Practice (M&P) Group. This includes cultural anthropologists, decolonization practitioners, a community of practice experts, and an evaluator. We will be joined by participants from other museums interested in decolonization who will participate in workshops, webinars, and evaluation as we create MuseDI to further the community of practice. This grant award will also support the Abbe’s position as a teaching and inquiry-focused institution for decolonizing public approaches to documenting and interpreting Native American history and experience. It creates a format for sharing these strategies with museums as they address their own responsibility to end colonizing practices. The first on-site meeting of the M&P Group is scheduled for April 15-16, 2019.


This celebration (announcing MuseDI) marks a brilliant expansion for the Abbe Museum in a truly imperative area of focus. I feel profoundly that you are moving in the best possible practice. From my vantage point in midcoast Maine, and as an 11th generation resident who feels a deep connection to your practice of reconciliation, I applaud you.   – Alana VanDerwerker


When this goal is realized, the Abbe will be known as a decolonizing museum where increasing numbers of Native advisors and educators are engaged in the Abbe’s work.

Abbe Museum audiences will feel comfortable in the supportive environment created for dialogue in exhibitions and educational programs. And, audiences will connect with the Abbe in multiple ways – in Museum spaces; across the state and region in schools, libraries, and other public venues; and virtually.


B: Wabanaki Artists 〉