Maine’s Art Museum Trail

Maine’s Art Museum Trail?  Not what one usually thinks about when considering Maine however, the Pine Tree State (as Maine is often known) may well have attracted more artists than any other state except New York.

Work by Rockwell Kent
Work by Rockwell Kent

As of this year, the Maine Art Museum Trail is comprised of a circuit of eight museums.  Most well known are likely Portland Museum of Art, where one can sign up to tour Winslow Homer’s studio located on Prout’s Neck and the Farnsworth Museum, home of the work of Andrew Wyeth and including works from his son and grandson.  There are many other works of art to view, however.  Here is a brief summary that may inspire you to take a few days and enjoy the Maine Art Museum Trail.

Winslow Homer "Weatherbeaten"
Winslow Homer “Weatherbeaten”

The Ogunquit Museum depicts members of the artist’s colony that sprouted in the area in the early 1900s, showcasing a selection of traditional landscapes by Hamilton Easter Field, among others.  There are also a number of sculptures, most notably several by Louise Nevelson.

Bates College in Lewiston is home to a fine, albeit small, museum and houses a gallery of photos of Hartley prior to his death in 1943.  One of the more interesting photos shows Hartley sitting on the beach in Cannes and holding a document in his hands.

Colby College has a museum housing 8,000 objects of art, spanning art in America from the colonial days to the present.  The art on display is of very high quality and includes names such as James Abbott McNeil Whistler, Mary Cassatt, Georgia O’Keeffe, and others.  The galleries are beautifully hung, arranged chronologically and thematically.

The University of Maine museum in Orono focuses on contemporary art.  The museum currently has four exhibits in place, one a permanent collection by Estes, Wyeth, Abbott, Katz and Marin.

The Monhegan Museum is a bit of an outlier, placing historical photographs and artifacts with paintings by artists who worked there into what was once the lighthouse keeper’s home.  The assistant keeper’s house is currently showcasing Lamar Dodd, an academic from the state of Georgia who experimented with numerous genres however, never hit big fame.

Bowdoin is the opposite of Monhegan.  Founded  in 1813, it is one of the country’s oldest art museums and aims to be encyclopedic.  One of the masterpieces housed here is a portrait by Gilbert Stuart of Thomas Jefferson and was commissioned by one of the college’s founders, James Bowdoin III.  This museum is a hidden gem and not to be missed, sitting just 15 minutes from Freeport and James Place Inn.