Seal Cove Auto Museum, Antique Autos and Motorcycles from the Brass Era, Mount Desert Island, Maine
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Bob Bahre Collection Toured

September, 2014 - Thanks to Chris Koch, a tour of the Bob Bahre collection was arranged for Museum staff and volunteers on Monday, September 22nd.

Bahre’s auto collection, housed in two separate buildings set on the edge of the White Mountains in South Paris, Maine, is truly extraordinary. Rows of the finest and rarest Duesenbergs, Packards, Hispanos and Mercedes-Benz greet the eye, and that is just the start of his 70 plus car collection!

Along with the Classics, everything from a Rambler to a Tucker fills out the lower level of one 9,000 square foot building, while yet another building is full of treasures like a Stutz Bearcat, a Thomas Flyer, and a Panhard Levassor. For good measure there are even carriages, engines, miniature cars, motorcycles, paintings, porcelain signs, mechanical musical instruments, a baby Bugatti, and an incredible 1900s popcorn and roasted peanut truck to dazzle even the most jaded collector.

Bob Bahre is best known for his connection to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a racetrack that’s located about an hour’s drive north of Boston and heralded as New England’s largest sports and entertainment venue. For car collectors Bahre is a fixture, having shown a car at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance every year since it began in 1996.

Our thanks to Curator Jeff Orwig, who is a walking encyclopedia and who barely catches his breath telling wonderful stories about the cars that he has loved and has cared for, for over twenty years. And yes, according to Jeff, there is a former Richard C. Paine Jr., car in the Bahre collection... a 'drop dead gorgeous' 1934 Packard Twelve 1108 Sports Sedan with coachwork by Dietrich.

View photos from the Bahre collection tour

Auto Museum Steamer on Jay Leno's Garage - The Ultimate Car Week

September, 2014 -- The 1908 Stanley Steamer was recently featured on the premeire of Jay Leno's Garage - The Ultimate Car Week. An offshoot of the car fanatic's successful Web series, Jay Leno's Garage - The Ultimate Car Week was a recentley aired special on CNBC, in which Jay goes deep into the heart of Monterey Week, culminating at Pebble Beach's Concours d'Elegance.

It was at Pebble Beach that he chatted with Andy Swift about the 1908 Stanley Steamer, which Jay describes as one of the rarest cars there due to the fact that it is a steamer that still has its original parts, including the wood. They discuss the "wet" engine and boiler which, since it was not in the car, precluded the steamer from winning in the Preservation Class.

The 1908 Stanley Steamer, owned by the Richard C. Paine Charitable Trust, is among the Brass Era cars on display at the Seal Cove Auto Museum. This Model K semi-racer is perhaps the most valuable Stanley in the world. It is one of only three still in existance; while the other two have been restored this is the only Stanley Model K still remaining in its original condition.

View the episode...

Picnic Highlights Bygone Summers

From the MDIslander

August, 2014 -- The Seal Cove Auto Museum found a novel way to put the fun back in fundraising with their recent Rusticator’s Picnic on the museum grounds. More than 100 people attended the Aug. 10 event, many dressed in period costumes.

“For the first time out, it was a great success,” said the museum’s Executive Director Raney Bench.

The picnic raised about $9,000 for the Tremont nonprofit organization. More importantly, it drew attention to the museum and what it has to offer: More than 70 antique cars and motorcycles on grounds overlooking Seal Cove Pond and Western Mountain.

Read the rest of the article in the MDIslander...

Melita Westerlund Sculptures Installed

June, 2014 As a part of the Art in Public Spaces (AiPS) program, artist Melita Westerlund has installed three of her sculptures at the Seal Cove Auto Museum, entitled “Nor’easter Sou’wester,” “No Intentions,” and “Tadasana.” AiPS creates opportunities for artists to exhibit their work in venues where it can be seen and appreciated as part of everyday life, in order to connect art to communities.

Ms. Westerlund has lived and created art on three continents, and now resides in Bar Harbor. Her work is exhibited in her native Finland, the United States and many other countries. She has studied at the L'Ecole Des Beaux Arts, Tunis, Tunisia; Vapaa idekoulu (Free Art School), Helsinki, Finland; the Taideteollien Korkeakoulu (University of Arts and Design), Helsinki, Finland, where she was awarded the Diploma; and SUNY at Buffalo, where she earned the MFA in Sculpture.

During the summer of 2014, her work can be seen in Maine at the Seal Cove Auto Museum, Northeast Harbor Library, Mount Desert Biological Laboratory in Salisbury Cove, the University of New England, and the June LaCombe Sculpture Garden in Pownal. To see more images of her work, visit www.melitawesterlund.com

Artist’s Statement:

Over many years I have been exploring the interrelationship of color and form. The shapes I create and colors I use have been inspired by a combination of my American and African experiences and my traditional Finnish background.

I am interested in conveying strength through simple shapes yet maintaining a sufficient complexity to bring one's eye back to the pieces many times, each time finding something new. My selection of medium supports this dialectic of simple strength and complexity. My exploration of materials and techniques and my desire to fabricate most of my art has led me on journeys that included bronze casting, welding steel and aluminum, woodworking, papermaking. Most recently I am exploring a recycled product that has been essential to my development of environmental art.

I am continually shifting scale and applying color to form. At times, as with my steel and aluminum sculpture, the color is applied to the surface of the material, while in my environmental art and cast paper the pigment has become integral to the material. In many pieces I have combined several materials to add another level of complexity to the work. Combinations such as steel and wood, stone, steel and moss, concrete and ceramic tile have all become elements in my work.

In Memoriam

May, 2014 We are saddened to share that long-time Auto Museum supporter and volunteer John Kelsey Harding, age 64, lost his battle with cancer in April. A graduate of Husson College and a US Army Veteran, John spent his winters in Florida and summers in Maine.

John was very active in the Mount Desert Island community as a member and volunteer, involved in Rotary, American Legion, the Bar Harbor Historical Society, Kebo Golf Club, and the Bar Harbor Fire Department.

John’s wife Jan Harding served on the Seal Cove Auto Museum’s Board of Directors, and her husband John volunteered as a “Tuesday Tinkerer” volunteer mechanic. John enjoyed nothing better than to spend his Tuesday’s covered in grease, cleaning an old carburetor, gapping a spark plug, and tinkering.

Bringing a car back to life, and hearing its engine run for the first time after years of inactivity, was a joy to John. Over the course of his five years volunteering at the Museum, he helped resurrect nearly a dozen priceless vehicles, most significant of which were the ones prepared for show at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in Florida. These cars included the world’s only surviving 1915 F.R.P.; a 1912 Crane Model 3; a spectacular 1913 Peugeot Type 150 with mahogany “skiff” coachwork by Henri Labourdette; and this year’s entry, a 1911 American Victoria Underslung once owned by America's Cup Winner and motorsports legend Briggs Swift Cunningham. John was with the Tinkerer’s last October 8th, when the Underslung was started up for the first time since the 1950s.

John not only had fun tinkering with the Museum’s cars during the summer season on Mount Desert Island, but then seeing his handy work again at Amelia Island, in March. Whether cranking the engine of one of the Museum’s most valuable cars at Amelia, or just delighting in seeing a child’s smile when getting a ride for the first time in a Model ‘T’ Ford at the Museum, John truly relished being one of the Tuesday Tinkerers, and the Tinkerers truly cherished him.

A memorial service was held for John on May 3rd in Florida, and on June 14th in Somesville, Maine.

Restored 1900 Skene Arrives

May, 2014 The 1900 Skene steam car, built in Lewiston Maine, arrives at the Museum after extensive restoration by Mark Herman of M.S. Herman & Company.

The Skene was acquired in England by the Richard C. Paine Jr., Automobile Charitable Trust in 2010, and was damaged in transportation requiring its complete restoration. One of a few Maine built automobiles known to exist, the Skene was originally owned along with at least one other by an American citizen who came to Europe in 1917 to fight in the first world war and was killed. The cars were then locked up in a barn, and although known about, were not available to purchase until the early 1970's, Leslie Maynard Leighton, the noted Maine steam car authority, secured the cars for an English friend who arranged for the Skene to go to Reg Parsons in England for restoration; Mr. Parsons subsequently purchased the car. The Skene has participated in several London - Brighton runs, and has been invited to be shown in August, 2014, at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. View photos of the Skene.

Museum Opens Season with New Exhibit and Public Reception

April, 2014 The Seal Cove Auto Museum is celebrating a new exhibit with a free public reception on Saturday, May 3 from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Guests will enjoy free admission to the museum, activities for children of all ages and light refreshments.

A special display of Lego creations made during the museum's popular Lego Day will also be exhibited. The opening marks the beginning of a busy season, which will include weekly demonstrations of the cars in the collection, curator-led tours, programs with local camps and participation in regional parades and car shows.

The Auto Museum's new exhibit is entitled Motoring into the 20th Century. The exhibit explores the cultural and industrial innovations of the earliest automobiles. America at the dawn of the 20th century was in the process of rapid and transformational growth. New inventions were being marketed to middle class Americans and traditional social and gender roles were being challenged. It was an exciting time, and one of the most exciting new inventions was motorized travel. This exhibit highlights several key changes in manufacturing that enabled the invention of the automobile, and some of the resulting social changes for women and the middle class. It reveals the fits and starts of early auto manufacture before mass production, and the race to make a sustainable and practical car, all before Henry Ford created his Model T auto for the masses.

Museum Wins Two NAAMY Awards

April, 2014 The museum was tickled to receive recognition of its work with media technology in the form of two NAAMY awards. The museum received a first place Award of Excellence for its website, and a third place Award of Excellence for its eNewsletter, from the National Association of Automobile Association at its annual conference at the end of March.

The annual NAAMY awards competition honors the work of nonprofit automotive transportation museums. The awards recognize industry leaders for achievement, professionalism and creativity. They are designed to further promote professionalism in automotive museum managerial, curatorial, educational and promotional work.

Seal Cove Auto Museum Wins Award at Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

March, 2014 The Seal Cove Auto Museum has won The Fashion Group International Award for The Best Presentation of Fashion and The Automobile at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance. Last week the sporty American Underslung Model 50 Travler Special Victoria traveled to Amelia Island Florida to be exhibited in this world renowned car show.

Owned by the Richard Paine Jr. Automobile Collection Charitable Trust and exhibited at the Seal Cove Auto Museum, the Underslung was a featured class at this year’s Concours. Cordell Snow, Auto Museum mechanic, and his wife Sandy, dressed in period golf costume to accompany the car.

Now in its nineteenth year, the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance is a celebration for the automobile like no other, among the top automotive events in the world, according to Chris Koch, one of the event organizers and board member of the Seal Cove Auto Museum. The United Kingdom’s “Octane Magazine” named the 2013 event as the Best Motoring Event worldwide, and this year it drew nearly 350 rare vehicles and a record 30,000 visitors.

The Fashion Group International is a global, non-profit, professional organization with 5,000 members in the fashion industry. The award is given to the display that best evokes the period of the automobile represented through the costuming of its presenters. Inspired by a period “Underslung” advertisement, Cordell and Sandy Snow of Ellsworth perfectly captured the look of the apparel in the ad.

The Trust’s “Underslung” was originally purchased by Larz Anderson, a prominent US diplomat, and was delivered during Anderson's diplomatic posting to Belgium in 1911. With Larz Anderson's death in 1937, the automobile's ownership passed to his widow, Isabel Weld Perkins Anderson, a Boston-area heiress and author who left a park and two museums as a legacy to the public, including the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA. The car was then acquired in 1948 by Briggs Swift Cunningham, racing car builder, driver, team owner, manufacturer, and automobile collector. Cunningham also skippered the victorious yacht Columbia in the 1958 America's Cup race. The car was driven by Cunningham in early revival Glidden Tours, and later placed on display at his Briggs Cunningham Automotive Museum in Costa Mesa, California. In 1987, Cunningham sold his 71-car collection, including the “Underslung,” to friend and collector Miles C. Collier. The Collier Institute donated the car to Richard C. Paine Jr. in 1994 for display at the Seal Cove Auto Museum.

The museum was able to show this wonderful automobile at Amelia Island thanks to the sponsorships of Bill Warner, Founder and Chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance; the Richard Paine Jr., Automobile Collection Charitable Trust; and Chris Koch, member of the Seal Cove Auto Museum and Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance Boards of Directors. The car has returned to its home at the Seal Cove Auto Museum and can be seen on exhibit, with the trophy, when the museum opens to the public on May 1.

Heading to Sunny Florida for the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance with the 1911 American Underslung

February, 2014 Now in its second decade, the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance is among the top automotive events in the world, drawing nearly 250 rare vehicles from collections around the world, for a celebration of the automobile like no other.

The museum has been invited to show the Richard Paine Charitable Trust's five passenger 1911 American Traveler Model 50 Victoria, with an underslung chassis. The American was originally purchased by Larz Anderson, a prominent US diplomat, and was delivered during Anderson's diplomatic posting to Belgium in 1911. The “Underslung” is a featured class at this year’s Concours.

We are able to show this wonderful automobile at Amelia Island thanks to the sponsorships of Bill Warner, Founder and Chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance; the Richard Paine Jr., Automobile Charitable Trust; and Chris Koch, member of the Seal Cove Auto Museum Board of Directors.

The car's unique Victoria-style top was custom ordered by Anderson and installed by the American Motor Car Company. With Larz Anderson's death in 1937, the automobile's ownership passed to his widow, Isabel Weld Perkins Anderson. She was a Boston-area heiress and author who left a park and two museums as a legacy to the public, including the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA.

In 1948 the car was acquired by Briggs Swift Cunningham, who was a racing car builder, driver, team owner, manufacturer, and automobile collector. Cunningham also skippered the victorious yacht Columbia in the 1958 America's Cup race. The car was driven by Cunningham in early revival Glidden Tours, and later placed on display at his Briggs Cunningham Automotive Museum in Costa Mesa, California.

Raney Bench Joins Team as Director

January, 2014 The Seal Cove Auto Museum is pleased to welcome Raney Bench to the Seal Cove Auto Museum as its new Executive Director. Ms. Bench has over twelve years of experience as a museum professional in private non-profit museums, as well as leadership experience in education, collections, exhibits, visitor services, and working with volunteers.

She has a Masters degree in Museum Studies from the University of Nebraska, and most recently worked at the Abbe Museum as Curator of Education. Ms. Bench currently resides in Southwest Harbor with her family.

The museum’s Interim Director, Roberto Rodriguez, is staying on at the museum as our Director of Curatorial Affairs, focusing on researching the history of the vehicles in the museum’s collection, public programs, and exhibits.

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