Allowing cars on island was hotly debated a century ago

Guests at the Seal Cove Auto Museum’s Rusticator Picnic event get rides in the 1912 Crane touring car. SEAL COVE AUTO MUSEUM PHOTO

This spring, the Seal Cove Auto Museum brought home a first place award from the National Association of Automobile Museums (NAAM) for its 2016 exhibit “Auto Wars: Then & Now,” which will remain on display through this October. Judges singled out the visitor-friendliness of the exhibit’s choose-your-own adventure format, its attractive and informative design and signage and its overall creativity.

The award affirms the Seal Cove Museum’s role as a cultural leader and its goal to ensure an important era in Americans’ collective past is shared and not forgotten, in Maine and beyond.

The “Auto Wars” exhibit commemorates the 1916 decision to allow cars on Mount Desert Island, following years of intense debate and bans on autos in some island towns. This historical story is told through the museum’s collection of Brass Era automobiles, as well as the interesting characters and publicity stunts that were a part of this debate 100 years ago. That debate resonates today as the island’s high volume of seasonal traffic remains an issue a century later.

“It is a great honor to be recognized by industry experts and our peers through this award,” the museum’s Executive Director Raney Bench said, “in support of the innovative approach to our telling of this story.”

The Seal Cove Auto Museum’s mission is to tell the story of innovation and ingenuity in New England and America through the early development of the automobile. The museum is open May 1-Oct. 31. For more information, call 244-9242 and www.sealcoveautomuseum.org.