Christopher Newell has been named executive director and senior partner with Wabanaki Nations at the Abbe Museum. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ABBE MUSEUM

Newell to lead Abbe Museum

BAR HARBOR — Christopher Newell, a museum educator and member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township, has been named the next leader of the Abbe Museum. He is the son of Wayne Newell, who has supported the Abbe for many years as a singer and educator.

The museum’s Board of Trustees announced Tuesday that Newell will serve as executive director and senior partner with Wabanaki Nations.

Newell has served since 2015 as Education Supervisor for the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center in Ledyard, Conn. He and his colleagues there founded an initiative to provide Native history lessons to public schools.

He has appeared in feature films and was senior advisor on the documentary “Dawnland.” The film chronicles the Maine-Wabanaki State Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which examined decades of mistreatment of Maine Indians by child welfare agencies in Maine.

“The opportunity to join the Abbe in this capacity is a dream come true in many ways,” Newell said in a statement. “My love of education and the value of museums in that work combine for me to create a life mission using those tools to change lives positively, and I bring that value with me.

“I have a lifelong connection to the Abbe Museum, in particular. I feel a lot of pride in continuing the tradition of my father,” he continued. “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.”

Newell succeeds former Executive Director Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, who led the museum from 2009-2019 and headed up new efforts including the Abbe Museum Indian Market and the Museum Decolonization initiative.

The new title for the position, “executive director and senior partner with Wabanaki Nations,” is intended to signify that “this work is done in collaboration and partnership,” Julia Gray, the museum’s interim director, told the Islander in December.


This story has been updated.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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