The Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine highlights over 10,000 works of art from American artists in the 18th to 20th century in its 20,000 square feet of gallery space. The museum started as an instruction in Lucy Copeland Farnsworth’s will that one of the buildings she owns be converted into an art gallery and be named after her father. She was the daughter of Rockland’s most successful businessman and in 1935, at her death, donated 1.3 million dollars to be used for the museum’s creation. It was opened to the public on August 15, 1948 through the work of her Board of Trustees and Robert Peabody Bellows.
The museum highlights the works of artists with associations to Maine and who have gained national attention for their artistry. Maine in America is a permanent collection of the Farnsworth Art Museum, highlighting the works of Frank Benson, Thomas Eakins Childe Hassam, Eastman Johnson, Fitz Henry Lane, Maurice Prendergast, Gilbert Stuart, and Thomas Sully. The second largest collection of the works of premier sculptor Louise Berliawsky Nevelson, also resides in the museum. Nevelson, who was born in Russia but grew up and spent her adolescent years in Maine, was a very prominent abstract expressionist sculptor who liked to work with every day, discarded things to create her works of art. Her works still inspire sculptors today.
The Wyeth Center is also well known for another museum attraction, featuring the exclusive collection of the works of three generations of the Wyeth family: N.C (Newell Convers) Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, and Jamie (James Browning) Wyeth.
N.C Wyeth is one of America’s greatest illustrators who illustrated for 112 books, including Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island. He also produced more than 3,000 realist paintings in his lifetime. His son, Andrew Wyeth, was also a realist painter, referred to as “Painter of the People”. One of Andrew Wyeth’s most famous works is Christina’s World (1948), depicting his neighbor Christina Olson. Jamie Wyeth is Andrew’s second son, also a realist painter. He prefers oil as his medium while his father worked mostly with watercolor and tempera. Jamie’s posthumous portrait of John F. Kennedy is one of his most famous images.
N.C Wyeth’s works are shown at the Linda Bean Folkers Gallery; Marylouise Tandy Cowan Gallery features the works of Jamie Wyeth; and the Hadlock Galleries and Study Center contain Andrew Wyeth’s works.
Two historic houses are part of the museum’s properties as well. One of them is The Farnsworth Homestead, home of benefactor Lucy Farnsworth. The second historic house is The Olson House, one of Andrew Wyeth’s favorite subjects in his works and the house that is depicted in his famous painting of “Christina’s World.” The museum maintains the houses’ original furnishings and is open for public viewing. The Farnsworth Homestead was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and The Olson House in 1993.
For more information about the Farnsworth Art Museum, visit their website at farnsworthmuseum.org.