The William A. Farnsworth Library and Art Museum was established in 1936 by the bequest of founder Lucy Copeland Farnsworth and named for her father, a prominent nineteenth-century Rockland businessman. However, it world be we years befor the museum opened its doors. The interim, prolonged by World War II, was used by the estate's sole trustee, Boston Bank, to put the museum on sound footing: in 1938, it opened the Farnsworth Homestead to the public, that people might see how a middle call merchant family lived in the late 1800s; it commissioned plans by a leading Boston arachitect for what was to become the first art museum in Maine specifically designed to house and display works of art; and most importantly, it used the the time to form a wonderful collection for the new museum at a time when prices for American art were extraordinarily low, setting the stage early on for the museum's mission, which is sto celebrate Maine's role in American art. When the museum opened in 1948, it immediately became an importand and sought-after community center, offering exhibitions, educational programs and cultural events for its audiences.
Over the past 71 years, the museum has transitioned from being governed by a single trustee to a board of trustees; its facilities have grown from one building to six on a 3.5 acre campus in the center of downtown Rockland; it owns two nationally listed historic sistes; its ixhibitions and educational programs merit national attention; and it is a major anchor institution in midcoast Maine. In that time, the Farnsworth has welcomed 3.3 million visitors, many coming from around the world. Our largest audiences by far, however, come from Maine, especially our local communities, where we provide free outreach to questing civic and social service organizations, underserved populations, and low-resourced rural and island schools.
The Farnsworth Art Museum serves the people of Maine and the nation by collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting American art, with a strong emphasis on Maine. The museum conserves, researches, documents, presents, and interprets its 15,000 object collection of 18th- througj 21st-century art in relation to its mission; and its low-cost or free intellectual programming is developed with diverse populations of all ages and learning types in mind. The Farnworth aims for programming excellence and a visitor experience of the highest quality for everyone. The museum is open year-round and is ADA accessible.