Ogunquit is one of those few, cherished places long known to unleash the creativity within those who visit the picturesque seaside village. Years ago, Charles Woodbury, Henry Strater, Edward Hopper, Robert Henri, George Bellows, Walt Kuhn, Marsden Hartley and many others were all pulled towards the environs of this quaint village with their eyes set firmly on creative pursuits – and Ogunquit helped to surface some of the best work from each of them.
The singular beauty of this area lead to the formation of the famous Ogunquit Art Colony in the late 1890’s. Over time, the prestige of the work that emerged from this group, along with the generosity of those attached to it, evolved into the nationally recognized Ogunquit Museum of American Art (OMAA).
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“We’re tied to America’s oldest art colony,” explains Nancy Pearson, Director of Marketing and External Relations for the OMAA, “and we’re the only museum in Maine focused exclusively on American art. Our permanent collection houses over 2,000 works and we bring in additional exhibitions each season, like Andrew Wyeth: The Linda L. Bean Collection, June 26-October 31 of 2014. We provide education and community outreach and even hold weddings and other private events. We’re a little gem of a museum and an Ogunquit must-see!”
The truth is, any visit to Ogunquit, Maine without the OMAA on the itinerary is absolutely an incomplete visit.
While the art is breathtaking and inspirational – the OMAA serves it up in a way that is completely pain-free for those not as culturally inclined. It’s a small museum with a high density of evocative art – much of it intimately tied to Perkins Cove and the surrounding geography.
This isn’t like visiting the MET in NYC – where you could never get through it all in one tiring, marathon day. The OMAA is able to be appreciated in a single leisurely afternoon visit – but the quality of the permanent collection and the caliber of the additional exhibitions offer valid logic to the decision to become formal museum members.
Then there’s the setting.
“Our museum is indoors and outdoors,” continues Pearson. “In addition to our indoor galleries, we have four acres of landscaped gardens and nearly 20 sculptures on the grounds, which overlook Narrow Cove and the Atlantic.”
You would be well-challenged to name another art museum anywhere blessed with the beauty of location that the OMAA is.
Approaching the front doors of the museum, it becomes immediately apparent that the Gulf of Maine is visible through the building, before you’ve ever even set foot inside. The rocky Maine shoreline. Crashing waves. Sun glinting off of salt water. Lobster boats entering and leaving Perkins Cove. All of this natural splendor – and more – is part of the experience of visiting the OMAA. Indeed, the Southern Maine coastline is part of the museum, itself — and they have taken full advantage of it all to the benefit of their guests and members.
Even those with less of an interest in fine art will enjoy walking the grounds of the OMAA.
Encounter the sculptures.
Head out back to the gardens.
Look across the water – down to the Perkins Cove footbridge for a new perspective of one of Maine’s most widely photographed landmarks.
There’s clearly something artistically meaningful about these particular places…Perkins Cove…the OMAA…Ogunquit. Perhaps it’s something about the sound of the ocean, or the quality of ocean-kissed light. Walk these grounds long enough and you may just find the artistic urge triggered within yourself.
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