The Ogunquit Museum of American Art’s 70th anniversary gala on Aug. 19 raised over $300,000 to care for the seasonal gallery’s modern and contemporary collections and seaside gardens. This outpouring of support came from 19 corporate sponsors, 35 individual sponsors, live and silent and auctions, and paddle raise donations from 200 guests at the sold-out event.

“This museum is a gem,” said oil painter Tom Glover, who donated “Flats with Brown,” an oil painting of a marsh, for the silent auction.

Guests explored the galleries and spilled out into the three acres of sculpture gardens by the sea, where Rick Della Bernarda, the resident artist at The Cliff House, and Claire Bigbee, put the finishing touches on a plein air floral that sold in the live auction later that afternoon.

To give potential bidders a chance to see other live auction pieces up close, staff and interns in white gloves walked them around the galleries. Interestingly, those pieces included a Henri Matisse linoleum cut from an illustrated book “Pasiphaé: Chant de Minos (Les Crétois),” published in 1944. The donation came from Gallerie d’Orsay in Boston, one of the event sponsors.

“The influence of the arts in this whole area of Maine, with Ogunquit at its epicenter, cannot be overstated,” said Kiki Stevens, a lifelong art collector whose shop, Kiki’s Perkins Cove, was a corporate sponsor. “This museum is the cornerstone that provides the historical perspective – as well as a vision for the future – and is an immeasurable force in keeping the importance of the arts in the public consciousness. It is a vital part of the community.”

Founded 70 years ago by Lost Generation artist Henry Strater, the museum houses a permanent collection of modern and contemporary paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints and photographs. It includes works by Bernard Langlais, Dahlov Ipcar, Alexander Calder, Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer and many more artists, past and present, based in Maine.


“For a museum in a beach town, it is a treasure,” said Ann McKee of Ogunquit.

Current exhibitions include “The Architect of a Museum,” which tells the story of the museum building designed by architect Charles Worley Jr. and built in 1952. Pieces donated by Strater that formed the founding collection of the museum are included. It’s a sort of time capsule, as the museum also looks forward – with a new wave of community support created by the anniversary fundraiser.

“The Architect of a Museum” and several other exhibitions are open until Nov. 12, when the museum closes for the season. If you go, don’t miss Joe Wardwell’s 2023 site-specific mural “The Sea, Just Like Your Eyes, Became a Refuge,” which has a color palette meant to appear differently in various weather conditions. Wardwell, a Boston-based painter, has an author talk Sept. 19 from 5 to 7 p.m. in conversation with poet, author and activist Marjorie Agosin, whose writings he drew upon for the commissioned mural.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: