The Farnsworth Museum: Celebrating Maine’s Role in American Art

The Maine coast has inspired generations of artists and the Farnsworth Museum, on Main St in Rockland, is dedicated to exploring Maine’s role in American art. Nowhere else can you see as complete a collection of paintings and other works by artists who either lived or painted here, and only one other museum can equal its collection of works by the three generations of the Wyeth family — N.C., Andrew, and James.

Some of America’s best-known landscape painters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries are displayed, including the earliest known work by Thomas Cole. Paintings of harbors and coastal landscapes by maritime artist Fitz Henry Lane explore the effects of light and atmosphere, contrasting to Rockwell Kent’s arresting, almost sculptural, images of the Maine coast.

These join works by Winslow Homer, George Bellows, John La Farge, George Inness, Childe Hassam, Georgia O’Keeffe, Frank Shapleigh and Edward Hopper for a total collection of more than 15,000 items.

The museum’s Wyeth Center is one of only two (the other is the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania) dedicated to the work of N.C., Andrew, and James Wyeth. A former church nearby on Union Street, exhibits works of James and N.C. and the Farnsworth holds more than 25 works by Andrew Wyeth.

Also part of the complex is the Farnsworth Homestead, an 1850 Greek Revival home built for William A. Farnsworth, in whose memory the museum was founded by his daughter. Julia’s Gallery for Young Artists, for students ages 3-18, engages teens in museum and gallery activities, which include curating exhibitions of works by Maine’s teen artists.

Of special interest to art lovers, the Farnsworth also manages the Olson House, a saltwater farmhouse made famous by Andrew Wyeth as the scene of his 1948 painting Christina’s World. Wyeth was close friends with the Olson family and pictured the house in many other works; he had a studio in one of the upstairs rooms. You can see the exterior of house, which stands on Hathorne Point Road in Cushing, Maine, or see the interior on a guided tour arranged through the museum. Due to repairs in progress, there will be no house tours in 2020, but you can visit the interior virtually in 3D through the museum’s website.

The Farnsworth Museum, in Rockland, is open by timed admission which must be reserved in advance on the website or by calling 207-596-6457 ext 130 during open hours. The museum has created a one-way path through the nine galleries to promote physical distancing. Visitors who are unable to wear a face covering for medical reasons can contact Visitors Services to arrange a private visit.


Side Dish

A few steps from the Farnsworth, on Oak St., Café Miranda serves a menu full of surprises, from innovative takes on seafood classics (fish cakes made with maple-smoked haddock) to their own versions of pub favorites (fried corn empanadas filled with house-smoked pulled pork) and wood-fired pizzas. For lunch on the patio or dinner in the cozy dining room, Café Miranda is our favorite stop in Rockland.

By Barbara Radcliffe Rogers
Europe Correspondent, Planetware
Luxury Travel Editor, BellaOnline
Features, Global Traveler Magazine

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