Located just a couple of blocks from the Inn was the first stop on our tour - the Abbe Museum. (Whoops, there went the "M" word.) The Smithsonian-affiliated museum celebrates Maine’s Native American heritage and culture, specifically highlighting the Wabanaki people (which includes the Micmac, Maliseet, Penobscot and Passamaquoddy tribes). There are actually two locations of the museum – the newer one I just mentioned in downtown Bar harbor (pictured to the right and below) and the original location in Acadia National Park (more on that in a bit). The exhibits are dynamic and engaging and bring to life the mass of cultural artifacts and history.
The original Abbe Museum is located at Sieur de Monts Spring. The spring was named after French explorer Sieur de Monts by George Dorr who purchased the land in 1909 and is recognized as the “Father of Acadia National Park.” On the property is the original Abbe Museum, founded by Dr. Robert Abbe, an archeologist whose extensive personal collection of prehistoric and historic archeological artifacts date back some 11,000 years. The original museum was built in 1928 but quickly outgrew its space and moved to the downtown location.
Also at Sieur de Monts Spring are the Acadia Nature Center, the Wild Gardens of Acadia, and the Spring House. The nature center contains exhibits on the flora and fauna and is a great place to talk with a park ranger and get all of your questions answered. The wild gardens are a myriad of the island's plant life divided into twelve individual biomes represented on the island. The gardens were started by a group of volunteers after witnessing the severe destruction caused by the great 1947 fire. Sieur de Monts is a great cross-section of the natural and cultural history that is alive on Mt. Desert Island.
There was one more garden to see before our day was done. Thuya Garden is a spectacular array of color, smell, and shape that is remarkably pleasing to the eye and senses - one that is far more beautiful than photographs can show. The serene garden sits atop a hill overlooking Northeast Harbor and has been in existence since 1953. The name is a derivative of Thuja occidentalis, the American white cedar found across the island. Also on the grounds is a "rustic" lodge that was completed in 1916 as a summer cottage. When the original owner died, a life-long resident of Northeast Harbor was appointed trustee and renovated the lodge to accommodate the growing collection of botanical and horticultural publications. A stroll through the garden was a perfect way to end our day.
After a full day of two museums and casually walking through a couple of Mt. Desert Island’s famed gardens, we were ready to head back to the Inn for cocktails and plan our dinner and another great day with Mom and Dad.