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Maine Museums showcase state’s rich artistic history


Bangor's University of Maine Museum of Art is one of the nine stops on the Maine Art Museum Trail. Photo by Kyah Lucky.
Bangor’s University of Maine Museum of Art is one of the eight stops on the Maine Art Museum Trail. Photo by Kyah Lucky, contributor.

Maine is known by many as “Vacationland,” a title earned by its rugged coastline and pristine wilderness. While many tourists head to the Pine Tree State to enjoy Acadia National Park, lobster rolls and beaches, the Maine Office of Tourism has supported the Maine Art Museum Trail since 1997.

The trail stretches over 200 miles from around coastal and central Maine. The trail consists of eight museums showcasing artwork from both Maine natives and others. University museums, including the University of Maine Museum of Art where the trail ends, make up half of the locations on the trail.

The artwork featured in many of the museums carries an emphasis on American and Maine art.

Kat Johnson, the educational coordinator for the UMaine Museum of Art, organizes tours, camps, workshops and other educational programs sponsored by the museum and has collaborated with other museums on the trail.

Johnson, working in conjunction with staff from the Farnsworth Art Museum and the Portland Museum of Art, praised the trail and its goals of partnership among Maine art institutions.

“The trail has been a great collaborative experience between all the museums,” Johnson said. “They really got to know and support each other.”

Artists such as Berenice Abbott, George Bellows, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Marguerite Zorach and three generations of the Wyeth family have lived and worked in Maine, where they have profoundly influenced American art, according to the trail’s official website.

Three generations of artists from Wyeth family, whose work is featured most prominently in the Farnsworth Art Museum, hold a special place in Maine art history. Their name, synonymous with Maine art, graces the Wyeth Family Studio Art Center here on campus.

The Maine Art Museum Trail collectively exhibits over 73,000 pieces of artwork ranging from “early American silver” to works by the influential French impressionists Degas and Renoir.

The museums on the trail include the UMaine Museum of Art, Farnsworth Art Museum, the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, the Portland Museum of Art, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, the Bates College Museum of Art, the Monhegan Museum of Art and History and the Colby College Museum of Art.

While students may not be able to visit all locations on the trail, the UMaine Museum of Art makes a great starting point for those interested in American and Maine art.

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