The Museum of Modern Art has reversed course and placed Andrew Wyeth’s iconic painting “Christina’s World” back on public view.

“Christina’s World” had been in the public eye since Wyeth painted it in 1948, and the New York City museum ignited a controversy last year when it placed the painting in storage, a move that angered many of Wyeth’s fans in Maine. The painter, who died in 2009 at the age of 91, was one of the United States’ best known artists of the mid-20th century, splitting his time between Pennsylvania and Maine, where he summered in Cushing.

Among those angered by the museum’s decision to store “Christina’s World” was the artist’s son, Jamie Wyeth.

In a telephone interview Thursday night, Jamie Wyeth said he was glad to learn from several people last week that his father’s painting had been put back on display.

“I’m very pleased. It gives MoMA visitors an opportunity to view a very iconic and engaging painting,” Wyeth said. He is not sure why it was placed in storage or why it was rehung but speculated that museum curators may have succumbed to public pressure.

Wyeth said the museum purchased “Christina’s World” for $1,800 in 1949.


The painting is beloved by Mainers for the way it conveys the hardscrabble life of the state’s rural people. It has a particularly special hold on residents in the midcoast communities of Cushing and Port Clyde, where Wyeth made many of his best paintings and portrayed local people with respect and admiration.

“Christina’s World” was not on display when the Museum of Modern Art reopened Oct. 21, 2019, after a multimillion dollar renovation that forced it to close for four months.

Wyeth said his father’s painting was placed in storage after the museum reopened and was only placed back on public display a few weeks ago, though he did not know exactly when that happened.

“Happy to confirm that Andrew Wyeth’s ‘Christina’s World’ is currently on view in Gallery 520: Picturing America,” the museum’s media office said in an email response to questions on Thursday. The office declined to answer questions about why the painting was placed in storage, when it was rehung or why it was put back on display.

Wyeth said the gallery where his father’s painting was rehung, on the museum’s fifth floor, features better lighting and visitor exposure. In the past, “Christina’s World” had been exhibited in a darkly lit hallway near restrooms and an elevator, a position that Wyeth in past interviews said denigrated its significance.

“This (putting it in public view again) was a pressure thing,” he said. “A lot of people wanted to see it come back.”


Last month, Wyeth expressed his anger with the museum in an interview with the Press Herald.

“The Museum of Modern Art is depriving their audience of viewing an utterly strange and affecting work. For years, they have denigrated it by hanging it in the darkest part of the museum, in the hallway next to the elevator. After 70 years, they’ve decided to put it in storage. It’s very sad and very art-trendy,” Wyeth told the Press Herald.

Lauren Sterling, who lives in Maine, was excited to learn the painting had been restored to public view. She told her Facebook followers about the move on Thursday.

“To all those fretting about this painting being put into storage and so loved by Mainers, guess what I found hanging in room 520 at MoMA!” Sterling wrote. She also posted a photograph of “Christina’s World” on her page.

A profile of the work, which is posted on the museum’s website, says that “Christina’s World” depicts a young woman seen from behind, wearing a pink dress and lying in a grassy field. Although she appears to be in a position of repose, her torso, propped on her arms, is strangely alert, her silhouette tense, almost frozen, giving the impression that she is fixed to the ground. The painting shows her staring at a distant farmhouse and group of outbuildings. Wyeth’s neighbor, Anna Christina Olson, inspired the painting.

Olson developed a degenerative muscle condition – possibly polio – as a young girl, leaving her unable to walk. She refused to use a wheelchair, preferring to crawl.

The painting has been on view in New York since the museum purchased it from Andrew Wyeth in 1949. It rarely leaves New York except for an occasional traveling exhibition. It’s considered to be the best known painting ever made in Maine. Wyeth was 31 when he painted “Christina’s World.” It eventually became one of the most recognized paintings in American art.

The Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland was the last museum to borrow the painting, when it was part of an exhibition in the fall of 2000.

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