By Ruth Greene-McNally*
With a vision to build “a museum of art for the community,” Henry Strater, along with Rudy Dirks and Robert Laurent, purchased the meadow overlooking Narrow Cove, formerly owned by Charles Woodbury. The Museum of Art of Ogunquit incorporated on September 18, 1951 with the founder’s mission for “broad educational interests of the public…” Architect Charles Worley of Boston designed the “fireproof small town museum” erected by Jarvis Shibles in 1952 to realize the full potential of the site at Narrow Cove.
Showcasing 121 works by leading Modern artists, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Stuart Davis, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Peggy Bacon, Walt Kuhn, Frances Lamont, Hamilton Easter Field, William von Schlegell, and others, the Initial Exhibition opened on July 25, 1953. Curated by Ralph N. Hurst, the installation assembled paintings, sculpture, and prints from the incipient collection as well as loans from the Downtown Gallery, the Hamilton Easter Field Foundation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of Art, the Kraushaar Gallery, Willard Gallery, Curt Valentin Gallery, artists, and private collectors.
Re-named the Ogunquit Museum of American Art in 1992, the permanent collection currently numbers over 3,000 works of American art from the late 19th century to the current era.
*Ruth Greene-McNally is Associate Curator | Collections Manager at OMAA.