At its founding, the MacDowell Colony was an experiment with no precedent. For more than a century, MacDowell, the nation’s first artist residency program, has been making a place in the world for artists because art makes the world a better place. Founded in 1907 by American composer Edward MacDowell and pianist Marian MacDowell, his wife, The MacDowell Colony provides a setting where a diversity of disciplines converge, leading to new possibilities for art and new directions for artistic careers. Over the past century, the power of the MacDowell experiment has transformed a single log cabin in the woods into a vibrant year-round program of 32 studios spread across 450 acres. The hallmarks of a MacDowell residency – intensive studio time and multidisciplinary exchange – create an environment where inspiration happens on a daily basis.
It stands now having provided crucial time and space to more than 7,000 artists. During its first century (1907-2007), MacDowell achieved an unparalleled cultural legacy, having nurtured the work of Benny Andrews, Milton Avery, James Baldwin, Willa Cather, Michael Chabon, Aaron Copland, Janet Fish, Frances FitzGerald, Jonathan Franzen, Dubose and Dorothy Heyward, Oscar Hijuelos, Meredith Monk, Walter Mosley, Alice Sebold, Studs Terkel, Barbara Tuchman, and Alice Walker. MacDowell Fellows have won 75 Pulitzer Prizes; a dozen MacArthur Foundation “Genius Awards,” and scores of Rome Prizes, Guggenheim Fellowships, National Book Awards, Sundance Prizes, GRAMMYs, and Academy Awards.
While working at MacDowell, Leonard Bernstein completed his Mass; Aaron Copland composed Billy the Kid; Thornton Wilder wrote Our Town and The Bridge of San Luis Rey; James Baldwin wrote Giovanni’s Room; Willa Cather wrote Death Comes for the Archbishop; Dubose and Dorothy Heyward wrote Porgy and Bess; and Virgil Thomson worked on Mother of Us All; Alice Walker worked on her first novel and Meridian at MacDowell. Michael Chabon wrote The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay; Alice Sebold wrote The Lovely Bones, and Jonathan Franzen completed The Corrections.