The mission of the Seal Cove Auto Museum is to tell the story of innovation and ingenuity in New England and America through the early development of the automobile. It achieves this through a collection of early automobiles and motorcycles from the Brass Era (1895-1917). Over 50 vehicles and other objects from this time period tell the exciting story of early automotive history and the cultural and industrial innovations of which the auto industry were a part. The Seal Cove Auto Museum shares this story — the innovation, ingenuity, and the power of imagination — that created these vehicles and transformed life in America.
In 1900 cars were just starting to appear on Mount Desert Island, and just as quickly, people were arguing about whether cars were an important invention that could make life easier, or a noisy nuisance that would ruin the beauty of the Island. So began the Auto Wars, a battle lasting 16 years that pitted locals against wealthy summer residents, with the ultimate decision of 1916 forever changing the nature of MDI.
This fascinating story is examined in Auto Wars: Then and Now, a choose-your-own-adventure exhibit, where visitors select to follow either the pro- or anti-auto factions to explore the impact of community decisions on the landscape.
The historic story is presented through the personalities involved in the debate a century ago, as well as the humorous publicity stunts carried out by some of these characters. Touch screens and digital storytelling juxtapose the modern story, revealing the pleasures and trials of getting around on the Island today. Visitors become part of the story by sharing their own ideas about the past, present, and future of cars on MDI, and by learning more about the traffic study currently being conducted by Acadia National Park.
Through the information it shares and the opportunities for the exchange of ideas it offers, this exhibit will inform how the automobile has shaped the physical, cultural, and economic landscape of MDI to its benefit and detriment; and will demonstrate how decisions in our past can impact our lives today, highlighting how the community can work together to preserve the natural beauty of the Island while taking into account the needs of locals and visitors alike.