Your Guide to Visiting Farnsworth Art Museum

It’s no secret that Maine is well known for its many museums and art galleries, and you won’t find much better in New England than Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland Maine.

With more than 20,000 square feet of amazing gallery space and a collection with more than 15,000 pieces, Farnsworth Art Museum is a truly great museum that oozes Maine history, Maine art, and Maine culture.

The Farnsworth is, believe it or not, the only center dedicated to just Maine-inspired and American art. It’s open year-round, always seems to have something new on exhibit, and really showcases the important role that Maine has played in American art.

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Farnsworth Art Museum
Farnsworth Art Museum

Getting to Know Farnsworth Art Museum

Farnsworth Art Museum in MidCoast Maine is roughly 90 minutes from both Bangor and Portland and less than an hour from Augusta. So no matter which direction you come from, enjoy the scenery in front of you and bask in the beauty of Maine.

An Amazing History

The museum opened in August 1948 thanks to the generous inheritance of Lucy Copeland Farnsworth. Lucy was the daughter of William Farnsworth, a mover and shaker in Rockland’s economy in the 1800s.

William had owned numerous pieces of real estate in Rockland and was the founder and president of the Rockland Water Company.

Lucy Farnsworth was one of six kids and lived to the age of 97 before she died in 1935. To honor her father’s immense legacy, she directed the bulk of her inheritance to be used to establish the William A. Farnsworth Library and Art Museum.

Marveling at Farnsworth Museum’s Extensive Permanent Collection

The eclectic art collection found at Farnsworth Art Museum is marvelous and extensive, spanning from the 18th century to the present day.

The museum’s permanent collection includes a who’s who of some of the most important American artists of all time. Visitors can enjoy thousands of works from the likes of Winslow Homer, Gilbert Stuart, Andrew Wyeth, Rockwell Kent, Fitz Henry Lane, George Bellows, and many, many others.

If you’re able to visit the museum in person, you absolutely should! But, you can also enjoy the collection online. More than 5,000 works in the museum can be searched in its collection database. More works and photos are added throughout the year, so there’s always a reason to view the collection online.

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Exploring the Wondrous Exhibits of the Farnsworth Museum

There’s so much to see and do at the Farnsworth Art Museum, you might wonder where to start first among the more than 15,000 pieces. Don’t worry! The best thing that you can do is take your time so that you can soak up all the museum has to offer.

The Fastforward Collection

Organized by guest curator Suzette McAvoy, this collection is organized along four themes: Emerging Modernism, Embracing Abstraction, Origins in a New Century, and Diverse Viewpoints. This collection highlights a diverse selection of art, as well as the history and cultural identity of Maine.

Note: The collection is on display through December 31, 2022

Andrew Wyeth: Islands in Maine

If you know anything about Maine, then you know that the state has a lot of islands — about 4,600 islands. This collection explores Maine’s islands in Penobscot Bay and Muscongus from which Andrew Wyeth drew inspiration for years and years. The paintings that visitors can see span from 1939 to 2008.

Note: The collection is on display through December 31, 2022

Andrew Wyeth: Early Temperas

This fascinating exhibit explores tempera paintings that Andrew Wyeth made from 1937 to 1939 and the creative process behind them. These paintings marked a turning point in his career and each one is paired with a selection of studies in watercolor, ink, and pencil.

Note: The collection is on display through December 31, 2022

Ashley Bryan: Beauty in Return

This exhibition showcases the contributions to both American and Maine art made by Ashley Bryan, the 2022 Farnsworth Art Museum’s Maine in America recipient. Bryan’s work includes stained glass, illustrations, paintings, and more, and the collection here is quite an exciting celebration of art.

Note: The collection is on display through December 31, 2022

Leonard Baskin: I Hold the Cracked Mirror Up to Man

Leonard Baskin has done a bit of everything, including being a book designer, calligrapher, illustrator, and teacher. This collection of prints was made from 1954 to 1998 and explores the dark side of humanity. Visitors can marvel at his enormous woodcuts, which are a commentary on historical and biblical events.

Note: The collection is on display through January 15, 2023

Louise Nevelson: Dawn to Dusk

When it comes to art, Louise Nevelson is synonymous with Maine art and Rockland Maine. This collection showcases the best years of Nevelson’s work, including sculptures, drawings, paintings, and painted wood constructions.

Note: The collection is on display through December 31, 2024

Olson House
Olson House

Visit the Historic Farnsworth Family Homestead

After you’ve explored the museum up and down — admired the works of Frank Benson, Eastman Johnson, Thomas Sully, and others — take some time to visit the Farnsworth Homestead.

Lucy Farnsworth left a sizable estate, which helped fund the Farnsworth Art Museum, but she also recognized the importance of the family home and left instructions to keep it intact and open to visitors.

The house is, in a word, immaculate with a design in the Greek Revival style on the outside and a traditional Victorian house with extraordinary decorating on the outside. The house has remained largely untouched from its original furnishings, including the indoor toilet.

The house was added as a National Historic Landmark to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, and it can also be viewed online in 3D. The house is not wheelchair accessible, so anyone wishing to visit should take proper steps to get inside.

Note: The Farnsworth House is currently closed until further notice.

Read Up on Art History at the Farnsworth Art Museum Library

One of Lucy Copeland Farnsworth’s requests for her estate was the creation of a library, whose books are available to the public. The library contains about 100,000 volumes, and many of them focus on the art and the American artists whose works are on display in the museum.

Some of these thousands of volumes are located in the Farnsworth library, but many of the artist archives can be found in other places within the museum. Nonetheless, this impressive non-circulation collection of works dedicated to art history is arguably one of the most comprehensive in the area.

The collection within the library reflects the magnificent works on display in the museum. And, the library even has a reading room, so you can check out a book, pull up a chair, and get lost in the rich history of American art.

Learn About 3 Generations of Artists at the Wyeth Center

The Farnsworth Museum’s Wyeth Center, which is actually a collection of buildings, collects the work of three generations of the Wyeth family: N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, and James Wyeth.

Rockland’s venerable United Methodist Church on Union Street is one of the center’s buildings and showcases N.C. Wyeth’s work downstairs, James Wyeth’s work upstairs, and the occasional show of all three Wyeths at the church too.

While the museum itself houses a number of Andrew Wyeth’s works, some of his work, as well as the other Wyeths, can be found in a research facility on Grace Street across from the church. The facility has reference materials and information on all three generations of artists.

Note: The Wyeth Center is open seasonally.

Learn About the Fascinating History of the Olson House

Located in Cushing, the Farnsworth’s Olson House is intriguing. This famous house is the subject of numerous Andrew Wyeth works, including his famous 1948 painting Christina’s World.

To Wyeth, the house represented everything he loved about Maine, and he frequented the house, even using the upstairs as a studio. The museum bought many of Wyeth’s works before putting on a major exhibition of his artistic genius in 1951.

The Olson House was gifted to the museum in 1991 by John and Lee Adams Sculley. Even if the physical house may be closed, curious museum-goers can still visit it online and in 3D.

Note: The Olson House is currently closed to public tours.

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FAQs About Farnsworth Art Museum

Where is the Farnsworth Art Museum located?

The address for the Farnsworth Museum is 16 Museum Street, Rockland ME.

When is the Farnsworth Art Museum open?

The museum is open year-round except on major holidays — New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day — and closes early on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

The museum is typically open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day but Tuesday.

What is the cost of admission to the Farnsworth Art Museum?

Admission to the Farnsworth Museum is free to members, children 16 and under, and residents of Rockland. For other visitors, admission is a reasonable fee to help maintain all of the properties and artworks.

Is the Farnworth Art Museum wheelchair assessable?

Yes, the museum is wheelchair assessable.

Who is the Farnsworth Museum named after?

The museum was created by the estate of Lucy Farnsworth, who wanted the William A. Farnsworth Library and Art Museum built as a memorial to her dad.

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Start Planning Your Trip to Farnsworth Art Museum

With 20,000 feet of gallery space, there’s so much to see and explore at the Farnsworth Art Museum. If you’re itching to see works from some of the true giants of American art, there’s never been a better time for celebrating Maine’s rich and unique contributions to art.

By checking out every part of the museum campus, from the art museum to the library to the many historic buildings, you’ll be amazed by the wonders in front of you. One of the most amazing and largest collections of art has to be seen to be believed.

The Farnsworth Museum’s massive and marvelous collection of 18th-century, 19th-century, and 20th-century art are waiting to be seen, so make plans by booking your MidCoast Maine stay nearby.

Glen Cove Inn & Suites - Rockland Maine
Glen Cove Inn & Suites

Book a Room Near the Farnsworth Museum

The Country Inn at Camden Rockport is only about a 15-minute drive from the museum. Our comfy rooms and suites offer everything that you need for a good night of relaxation and sleep. Plus, we put together a fresh breakfast every morning to help you start your day.

On the other hand, you could book a stay at our sister location — Glen Cove Inn & Suites — which is only about 10 minutes from Farnworth Art Museum. On top of that, there are more galleries and museums in Camden Maine and the surrounding that you shouldn’t miss.

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