The mission of the Abbe Museum is to promote the understanding and appreciation of Maine's Native American culture, history, and archaeology. The Museum's collections, exhibitions, and programs focus on Native American traditions in Maine and explore the broader Native American experience, past and present.
The Abbe Museum was founded in 1926 and first opened to the public in 1928. The museum is named for its founder, Dr. Robert Abbe (1851-1928), an eminent New York physician known for his pioneering use of radiation therapy. A beloved summer resident of Bar Harbor, during the 1920s Dr. Abbe assembled a collection of early Native American artifacts found in the Frenchman Bay area. He persuaded others with similar collections to join him in establishing a museum that would protect these objects and display them for public education and enjoyment. Early supporters included George B. Dorr, “the father of Acadia,” and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The museum opened as a private museum at Sieur de Monts Spring in Lafayette National Park (later renamed Acadia National Park) on August 14, 1928. It was dedicated to the memory of Dr. Abbe, who had died in March.
The Abbe opened its new museum on September 29, 2001, with permanent and changing exhibitions including the permanent exhibition "Wabanaki: People of the Dawn." Each exhibition is accompanied by a variety of educational programs for adults and families. The Abbe also presents special programs for school groups, designed to correlate with their curricula and to meet the objectives of Maine Learning Results. The new museum is open April through December to serve the year-round community. at the historic, trailside museum at Sieur de Monts Spring, open from mid-May to mid-October, visitors take a step back in time to an early 20th century presentation of the Native American archaeology of Maine.