The Winslow Homer Studio at Five

The Winslow Homer Studio at Five

On September 25, 2012, the PMA opened the doors of the Winslow Homer Studio to the general public for the first time, triumphantly ending a multiyear renovation campaign and making one of the most significant locations in American art history available to the public through tours. This was a monumental occasion in its time, garnering buzz throughout the art world and attention throughout the national media, but after five years of enthusiastic attendance and changes throughout the PMA and Maine can the scope of the occasion be put into proper perspective.

Since fall of 2012, the PMA has expanded and enriched its campus even further, extending out into the Portland neighborhood with Robert Indian’s SEVEN and, just this summer, the debut of the free and open David E. Shaw and Family Sculpture Park on High Street. Earlier in 2017, the PMA unveiled the completed Your Museum, Reimagined project, with completely reinstalled galleries with more work on view than ever before. Planning for this transformative multiyear project began at about the same time that the Winslow Homer Studio Campaign ended, and it’s no exaggeration to say that the successful opening of the Studio led naturally and directly to it.

“The opening of the Winslow Homer Studio happened fairly early in my tenure here at the PMA, and set the tone for so much of what Judy and Leonard Lauder Director Mark Bessire wanted to accomplish,” said Deputy Director and Director of External Affairs Elizabeth Jones. “Accessibility is a big buzzword in the museum industry, and the opening of the Studio defines what that word means. Here we had a building that is so crucial to the story of Maine, right in our backyard, and it was completely closed off. What we did was restore it, and open it up so that anyone could visit it and get closer to the state’s artistic legacy. The success of this project affirmed our belief that was possible to do the same with our collection.”

Furthermore, the opening of the Studio had a symbolic impact. This was the place where Winslow Homer created much of what we consider “the mystique of Maine,” or the unique aspect of the state that draws people here to find inspiration in the natural beauty and the unforgiving elements. Over the last five years, Maine’s place in the national spotlight has grown exponentially, as people both locally born and from throughout the world have used the state to reinvent themselves and their community—not unlike how Homer reinvented his life and practice through his work at the Studio, inspiring waves of artists to follow in his wake.

These artists, craftspeople, and creators are still coming, and so it was important that the Winslow Homer Studio be here for them to get in touch with this history. A region only has so many places that are touchstones of this magnitude, and that have remained relatively intact over the centuries, and the Studio is one of Maine’s. And for the building and the land surrounding it to serve this role in the community, the community needed to stand up for it.

“One crucial aspect of the Winslow Homer Studio Campaign and the reopening,” continued Jones, “was that it showed me, and showed the whole community, what incredible support the PMA has, from its Board to its donors to its staff, past and present—support that continues to this day. It took a great deal of time, effort, and funding to make the Winslow Homer Studio happen and not only preserve a part of our heritage but make it accessible. That’s a lot of people saying, ‘This is what is important to us as a community.’”

“In just five years of the Winslow Homer Studio being open, it’s already impossible to imagine our cultural landscape without it.”

The 2017 tour season extends through October 29. Spaces are still available but going fast.

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September 25, 2017
Editorial and Brand Specialist

Robert is a native of Winslow, Maine, and a graduate of Boston’s Emerson College. After spending years as a screenwriter in New York City and an arts journalist in Santa Fe, he moved back to Maine to raise a family in 2008. He currently lives in Portland’s Back Cove with his wife, who owns a business up the street from the PMA, and two young sons.