Abbe Museum hires new executive director

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Christopher Newell, a member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe from Indian Township, joins the Bar Harbor museum.

Christopher Newell, a museum educator and Passamaquoddy tribal member from Indian Township, is the new executive director of the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor. The museum’s trustees announced Newell’s appointment Tuesday.

Christopher Newell Courtesy of Abbe Museum

Newell has been education supervisor for the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center in Connecticut since 2015. While there, he and his museum colleagues founded the Akomawt Educational Initiative to provide native history lessons to public schools in the area.

Newell also was senior adviser on the Emmy Award-winning documentary movie “Dawnland,” which tells the story of the removal of tribal children in the United States through the Maine-Wabanaki State Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The film was praised for the depth of its research.

In addition to serving as executive director of the museum, Newell’s duties involve being a senior partner with members of the Wabanaki nation.

In a statement, Newell said he was introduced to the museum by his father, tribal elder and traditional Passamaquoddy singer Wayne Newell. “Annual trips with him to sing and educate at the museum gave me extremely fond and exciting childhood memories of Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park,” he said in a statement. “The opportunity to join the Abbe is a dream come true in so many ways.”

Newell replaces Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, who left the museum last year to become director at the Illinois State Museum. Newell is expected to begin at the Abbe on Feb. 24.