The view from inside Winslow Homer’s studio on Prouts Neck in Scarborough. Photo courtesy of the Portland Museum of Art

It was all major museums could do to remain accessible through the pandemic. Some hosted shows online and opened sporadically between COVID outbreaks. But even when they opened full-time again, other ancillary buildings and locations – such as deceased artists’ studios or buildings devoted to the work of a single artist – remained on pause.

Institutions used the down time as an opportunity to rethink these experiences for a post-pandemic museum goer. Now they are just reopening (or in one case, closing for major restoration).

These studios and private museums allow a deeper dive into the work of individual artists, helping us understand the environment that moved them, the light of their paintings, the forms of their sculptures and more. Here’s what’s going on at these facilities outside the museums proper.

Winslow Homer Studio
Prouts Neck, Scarborough; 207-775-6148,

“Our plan was to open the studio in 2020 with a whole reinterpreted experience,” says Christian Adame, Peggy L. Osher Director of Learning and Community Collaboration for the Portland Museum of Art. COVID gutted that idea. Instead, last year the PMA ran a few pilot tours with ticket holders thwarted by the pandemic to test out aspects of the reinterpretation, which is now fully functional for groups of about a dozen at a time (transported by bus from the PMA).

As part of the program, the museum transitioned volunteer docents to paid positions, hired others and trained them.


“Previous iterations were trying to tell a general story of Homer’s whole life,” explains Adame. “We’ve tried to focus on the last 10 years he lived in Prouts Neck, rooting the story in his sense of place here and in how he lived.”

The few of Homer’s effects that remained at his Scarborough studio, including furnishings, are displayed on raised platforms. Photo courtesy of the Portland Museum of Art

Not many personal effects remained (except for some objects and furnishings now raised on display platforms). Instead, working from the only extant photograph of Homer in his studio, the museum reproduced various paintings, drawings, copper plates and etchings known to be executed there, as well as tools and brushes – even his artist’s palette.

A custom soundscape now plays during the visit. We hear what Homer might have heard while working: his Jack Russell terrier, Sam, barking in the distance, brushstrokes on canvas, his pencil scribbling notes on the walls, fire crackling in the hearth and the artist cooking. Upstairs, there is a photo gallery of Homer, family members and visitors at Prouts Neck, as well as reproductions of botanical watercolors done by his mother, Henrietta. Visitors can also hold receivers to their ears to listen to letters, narrated by PMA staff, that Homer wrote to his father and brother.

Visitors get a newly minted field guide with information about Homer, his works, a chronology of his life, a family tree, notes on the area’s geology and local flora and fauna, and so on. “There’s a lot of self-exploration too,” concludes Adame. “So that visitors get a better sense of that place and the importance of it to Winslow Homer’s art.”

Admission: $65 ($40 for PMA members and $25 for students; group rate and off-season pricing also available), includes full-day access to the PMA. Tours are limited to 12 people. The studio is open until Nov. 12.

Sculptures by Bernard Langlais at the Langlais Art Preserve. Photo by Maura McEvoy

Langlais Art Preserve


Cushing; 207-888-2435,

Native Maine sculptor Bernard “Blackie” Langlais was one of the most beloved artists in the state. He had enormous success on the national art stage, but eventually abandoned New York and the spotlight, preferring to settle back in Cushing to work quietly with scrap wood in his barn and surround himself with his monumental animal sculptures and the occasional figure (Richard Nixon, Christina from Wyeth’s painting “Christina’s World”).

The Georges River Land Trust has managed the 90-acre, ADA-accessible preserve since 2015 in a unique partnership with The Kohler Foundation Inc. (which contributes to the restoration of artists’ studios across the country) and Colby College Museum of Art (which currently maintains the sculptures, and a member of which sits on the preserve’s board of advisors).

Bernard Langlais’ workshop and barn are reopening in June. Photo by Maura McEvoy

Come June 29, the newly renamed Langlais Art Preserve will reopen the artist’s workshop and barn, which director Hannah Blunt describes as a “horror vacui,” a Latin phrase that refers to a fear of empty spaces. Considering the barn and workshop are packed to the gills – with tools, wood, multiples of wooden dog legs (to use when needed for a piece) and sculptures that Langlais both completed and left unfinished at his death in 1977 – the term fits.

Because the artist “left everything” and his widow, Helen, invited other artists to use the barn and shop as well as Langlais’s tools until her own death in 2010, Blunt observes, “For genuine makers and thinkers, it’s especially interesting.”

But Langlais’s whimsical work has an appeal that’s pretty nearly universal. And the experience of the barn and workshop will only enhance people’s enjoyment of it. “This is an immersive art environment and very site-specific experience,” Blunt says. “What you get in Cushing is a sense of his engagement with the place he called home since the late 1960s.” Space has also been made to screen Melanie Essex’s 1977 super 8 film of Langlais’s art-making environment (made when she was 17, shortly before his death).


Over a dozen of his sculptures dot the grounds (a 13-foot horse, bears, an elephant, Nixon emerging from a marsh), and visitors “get a sense of how climate and the environment affected his work.” Animals roost in or perch atop the sculptures, which would have tickled Langlais.

Admission: suggested donation of $10. The grounds are open every day from dawn to dusk. Langlais barn and workshop will be open from June 29 to Sept. 3, 1-4 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday. More information about programs, tours, and accessibility will be published on the preserve’s new website.

The Wyeth Center at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland. Photo by David Troup

Olson House and the Wyeth Center
Rockland; 207-596-6457,

For 30 years – from 1938 to 1968 – Wyeth produced some 350 paintings of Olson House and its inhabitants, Alvaro and Christina Olson, the latter becoming the subject of “Christina’s World,” arguably his most iconic work. “One of the things Wyeth’s paintings of Olson House document,” observes Farnworth Museum curator Jane Bianco, “is the concurrent aging of the house and the occupant. The house was an analogy for their aging process.”

For the near future, the historic landmark is closed as the museum undertakes a major restoration. “We’re pacing ourselves depending on our fundraising,” says the museum’s director Christopher Brownawell, who estimates it will cost $2 million to reopen. This requires adding structural support for the floor, rebuilding and hoisting the chimney into place, replacing windows and more.

Andrew Wyeth, “Alvaro on Front Doorstep,” 1942 watercolor on paper. Collection of the Marunuma Art Park. © 2023 Wyeth Foundation for American Art/Artists Rights Society (ARS) Courtesy of Farnsworth Art Museum

In the meantime, the Wyeth Center is presenting “Alvaro’s World: Andrew Wyeth and the Olson House” (June 17 through Oct. 29), which draws on the museum’s own holdings and those of Katsushige Suzaki, a prolific Wyeth collector who established Marunuma Art Park in Asaka, Japan. It’s a rare opportunity, says Brownawell, to “get a deeper understanding of Wyeth’s relationship with these people” from the point of view of Alvaro, who cared for his sister while tending pigs and hens, growing crops, haying fields, raking blueberries and endlessly chopping wood (11 cords per winter to heat the drafty house).


The first floor will also include a display about the progress of the restoration. The grounds of Olson House itself will be dotted with signage for self-guided tours of the remote saltwater farm on Hawthorne Point, about 12 miles from the museum. The museum galleries, where Brownawell says “we integrate Wyeth into the larger American art narrative,” will also host a Wyeth show.

Admission: $20 adults, $18 seniors, $10 students (free to members, children under 16 and Rockland residents). 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

Jorge S. Arango has written about art, design and architecture for over 35 years. He lives in Portland. He can be reached at: 

This story was updated May 22 to correct the year of Bernard Langlais’ death.

Comments are no longer available on this story