There’s something about Maine that calls to artists, pulling them in like moths to a flame. Of course, the rugged and wild landscape has something to do with this, but we think it’s more than that. Our state is a place where creators are celebrated and supported, where even the most staid scientist might find their fingers itching for a paintbrush. Kindle your own inspiration by taking a moment to appreciate the fearless work of others at one of these nine stunning museums.
Ogunquit Museum of American Art | Ogunquit
Tracing its roots back to America’s first artist colony—the Ogunquit Art Colony—this indoor-outdoor museum is the only one in Maine entirely devoted to American modern art. After you’ve enjoyed the gallery of paintings, step outside to experience dramatic modern sculpture and a stunning view of the Atlantic.
Bates College Museum of Art | Lewiston
From dynamic gallery talks to educational film series, the Bates Museum of Art is designed to do one thing: instruct. But you don’t have to be a student to learn from the wide range of works on view. From the celebrated Marsden Hartley Memorial Collection to the gallery of contemporary Chinese art to the rotating exhibits of graphic poster art and more, there’s always something new to uncover.
Farnsworth Art Museum | Rockland
Best known for its extensive collection of works by the Wyeth family, the Farnsworth is a veritable temple of Maine-made art. Devoted fans will adore the Wyeth Center, a beautiful historic church that showcases an ever-changing roster of drawings and paintings. Alongside these treasures, the Farnsworth features rotating exhibitions, like their upcoming collection of objects made by the Maine Shaker community—a first of its kind.
Portland Museum of Art | Portland
From the sun-filled atrium to the delightful gift shop, every room at the PMA is packed with visual treats and bold curatorial choices, like the upcoming Richard Estes retrospective. The internationally praised photorealist resides on Mount Desert Island, and this will be the first major show of his work since the PMA’s 1991 exhibit. Previous notable exhibitions include “Edgar Degas: The Private Impressionist” and Youth Art Month shows.
Bowdoin College Museum of Art | Brunswick
Visitors to the museum will find themselves surrounded by beautiful art and breathtaking architecture from the moment they enter the door; the modern glass pavilion that serves as an entryway is an AIA award-winning design, which contrasts perfectly with the original 1984 Walker Art building. Inside, you’ll find everything from important pieces of American portraiture to imposing relief sculptures from the ninth century.
Center for Maine Contemporary Art | Rockport
In many senses, the CMCA isn’t a true museum, nor is it a commercial gallery. It has no permanent collection and does not actively seek to sell works. And yet, this nonprofit organization has advanced contemporary art in Maine through its exhibits and education. Over the years, the CMCA has shown their dedication to featuring emerging artists and other lesser-known creators and innovators. For truly cutting-edge work, there are few places that can top the CMCA.
Colby College Museum of Art | Waterville
In 2013, the Colby College Museum became the largest art museum in Maine, thanks to the installation of the Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion. Inside the modernist structure, visitors will find a truly inspiring selection of artworks, from the postmodernist papers of sculptor Richard Serra to the tender sketches of James McNeill Whistler. Be sure to save time to revel in Alex Katz’s colorful, abstracted scenes of New England summers.
University of Maine Museum of Art | Bangor
In the heart of Bangor, this historic downtown museum—with its pretty front courtyard enclosed by a wrough-iron fence—is a hidden gem, The art inside is exclusively contemporary, and often from far-flung places. “Our primary mission is presenting the art of our time,” explains George Kinghorn. To this end, they have brought smart, conceptual pieces by artists like Amy Beeler and Jay Kelly into the clean, white gallery space.
UNE Art Gallery | Portland
A modernist cube of a building constructed in 1977, is often referred to as “the Little Jewel.” Step inside, and you’ll see why. The UNE gallery completely changes their lineup every three months, which keeps visitors coming back. Don’t miss the upcoming show of sculptor Bernard Langlais’s fanciful wooden sculptures.