Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko at the Abbe Museum. Catlin-Legutko, president and CEO of the museum, will speak at College of the Atlantic on Feb. 13. PHOTO COURTESY OF COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC

Decolonizing museums is forum focus

BAR HARBOR — Abbe Museum President and CEO Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko will discuss decolonizing museum practice and encouraging collaboration among indigenous peoples and the museum field at College of the Atlantic’s Human Ecology Forum in McCormick Lecture Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 13, at 4:10 p.m.

The Abbe Museum’s mission is to inspire new learning about the Wabanaki Nations with every visit. In August 2015, the museum completed its most ambitious strategic plan to date, committing to develop and implement decolonizing practices in a museum setting.

During her talk, Catlin-Legutko will discuss that nature of decolonizing museum practice and how it offers opportunities for Wabanaki people to feel connected to the Abbe, promote cultural authority, and encourage collaboration and involvement with and between tribal community members and the museum field. Also, she will discuss the role of the leader in a decolonizing framework, which requires power-sharing skills and a commitment to developing group and personal cultural competencies.

The Abbe Museum is described by its museum peers as the first nontribal museum to adopt an organizational mandate to decolonize. It is the museum’s hope and intention that this significant work ultimately leads to healing and reconciliation for Native people and museum spaces.

Working in museums for more than 20 years, Catlin-Legutko believes they have the power to change lives, inspire movements and challenge authority.

A museum director since 2001, she is a frequent presenter at national museum meetings and is often asked to comment on national museum issues. As the head of the Abbe Museum, she has been the driving force behind the museum’s decolonization initiative, working with the Native communities in Maine to develop policies and protocols to ensure collaboration and cooperation with Wabanaki people. Because of this work, the Abbe is a leading resource and model that the museum field turns to for ideas, solutions and strategies for comprehensive museum decolonization.

In 2016, Catlin-Legutko gave her first TEDx talk, “We Must Decolonize Our Museums.” Visit She’s an active and engaged board member of the Maine Humanities Council, Smithsonian Affiliates Advisory Council, Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce and the American Alliance of Museums.

Catlin-Legutko is the author of “Museum Administration 2.0” (2016) and “The Art of Healing: The Wishard Art Collection” (2004), and co-editor of “Small Museum Toolkit” (2012). In 2008, as the director of the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum, she led the organization to the National Medal for Museum Service.

The Human Ecology Forum is a free, weekly speaker series based on the work of the academic community, which also draws on artists, poets, and political and religious leaders from around the world. Members of the public are invited to attend.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.