We visit art museums whenever we can, and the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland is a favorite of ours. It’s an easy spot to visit, appreciate a whole lot of Maine art. The Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine has an extensive collection of American art, with a focus on Maine artists and their contributions to Americana. If we’re visiting Maine in winter, we make sure to stop in to warm up and get a little culture.
We’ve got tips for visiting the Farnsworth, a little about our favorite features of the museum and suggestions for a great day in Rockland, Maine. In addition to the lighthouse museum in Rockland, this is one of the best things to do here in town or MidCoast Maine in general.
History of the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland
The Farnsworth Art Museum is a museum of American art located in Rockland, Maine. It was founded in 1948 by Lucy Copeland Farnsworth in memory of her husband, William A. Farnsworth, a prominent Rockland lawyer and collector of American art. I think it’s one of the best museums in Maine, and for sure, my favorite of the Maine art museums.
William Farnsworth was an avid collector of American art, particularly works by Maine artists, and he bequeathed his collection to the people of Rockland upon his death in 1939. Lucy Farnsworth then founded the museum as a way to showcase her husband’s collection and to promote American art in general. Thank goodness she did!
Originally housed in the Farnsworth’s own home, the museum moved to its current location on Main Street in Rockland in 1952. Since then, the museum has undergone several expansions and renovations, including the addition of the Wyeth Center in 1998 and the Olson House in 2011.
Today, the Farnsworth Art Museum has an extensive collection of American art, with a focus on Maine artists and their contributions to American art. The museum also offers a range of educational programs and hosts a variety of special exhibitions throughout the year.
Who is “Wyeth” and Why is the Name Famous in Maine?
The Wyeth family is a prominent family of artists who have lived and worked in Maine for several generations. The family includes several renowned artists, including N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, and Jamie Wyeth.
N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945) was an American illustrator and painter known for his illustrations of classic literature, such as Treasure Island and Robin Hood. He moved to Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania in 1903, where he raised his family and built his reputation as an artist.
Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) was N.C. Wyeth’s son and is perhaps the most well-known of the Wyeth artists. He painted in a realistic style and was particularly known for his depictions of the landscapes and people of Maine and Pennsylvania. Some of his most famous works include “Christina’s World” and “Helga Pictures.”
Jamie Wyeth (born 1946) is the son of Andrew Wyeth and also a painter. He is known for his portraits, landscapes, and animal paintings, and has lived and worked in Maine for much of his life.
The Wyeth family’s connection to Maine began in the early 20th century when N.C. Wyeth visited the state on a painting trip. He was drawn to the rugged coastline and natural beauty of the region, and his son Andrew and grandson Jamie also found inspiration there. The Wyeths’ paintings of Maine have helped to make the state a popular destination for artists and art enthusiasts alike, and the family’s legacy continues to be celebrated in Maine and beyond.
Interesting sight: we did a day sailing out of Port Clyde to Easter Egg Island to see puffins (amazing Maine wildlife) and we sailed past the Wyeth compound. It looks just like the many paintings!
Exhibits at the Farnsworth Art Museum
I always think the highlights of art museums are the rotating and visiting exhibitions, but I do appreciate a good permanent collection. I love that the Farnsworth Museum has so much local art and such a great permanent collection. Some of the primary exhibits in the museum include:
- Maine in America: This exhibit showcases the work of Maine artists, including paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts.
- Contemporary Art: The museum also features a rotating collection of contemporary art, including paintings, sculptures, and mixed media works.
- Impressionism and Modernism: The museum has a collection of impressionist and modernist works, including pieces by Robert Henri, George Bellows, and John Marin.
- Folk Art: The museum has a collection of folk art, including paintings, sculptures, and textiles.
- Photography: The museum has a collection of photography, including works by Berenice Abbott, Walker Evans, and Eliot Porter.
- The Olson House: This is the house that inspired Andrew Wyeth’s famous painting, “Christina’s World.” The museum has preserved the house as it was when the Wyeths painted there, and visitors can tour the house and grounds.
- The Wyeth Center: This center is dedicated to the three generations of Wyeths who have painted in Maine. It features works by N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, and Jamie Wyeth.
These are just some of the primary exhibits at the Farnsworth Art Museum, and like I said, they change throughout the year. The museum also has a number of special exhibitions that they do with local artists, so visitors can always find something new to see.
Farnsworth Museum Membership Info
Yes, you can purchase a membership to the Farnsworth Art Museum. Membership provides many benefits, including free admission to the museum’s galleries, invitations to members-only events, discounts on museum programs and events, and a discount at the museum store.
There are several membership options available, including individual, family, and patron levels. Memberships can be purchased online through the museum’s website or in person at the museum.
By becoming a member of the Farnsworth Art Museum, you can support the museum’s mission to promote American art, particularly the art of Maine.
FAQ about the Farnsworth Museum
What are the hours of operation and admission fees?
The cost is $15 for adults and kids under 16 are free. The Farnsworth is open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Wednesday to Sunday. Hours can vary in the off-season.
What is the history of the Farnsworth Museum?
The museum was opened in the 1940s to showcase the private collect of the Farnsworths, but it’s grown over the years.
What are the current exhibits on display?
The primary exhibits you’ll see, no matter when you visit the Farnsworth Museum are the Wyeth painting, by the different Wyeth artists. The subject matter is almost always Maine and the Northeast.
Are there any guided tours available?
There aren’t daily tours of the Farnsworth Museum, but if you’re leading a group through Rockland, you can arrange a tour in advance.
Is photography allowed inside the museum?
Yes! The collections in the Farnsworth Museum are able to be photographed because they belong to the museum. If there is a visiting exhibition or if noted at an individual piece, that’s when you can’t photograph the art.
Are there any restrictions on what visitors can bring inside the museum?
You cannot bring food and drink into the Farnsworth Museum. Also, they do provide a coat check to leave coats and backpacks to prevent any accidents in the museum.
Is there a gift shop or café on site?
Yes! The museum store at the Farnsworth is awesome, with both art souvenirs and lots of local items. There is also a reproduction gallery to purchase art from.
Is the museum wheelchair accessible?
Yes, the Farnsworth is wheelchair accessible, including elevators to access the multiple levels.
Are there any nearby parking options?
Parking is available in designated lots off Main Street, or you can park on the street.