This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Monhegan Museum of Art & History on Monhegan Island. Founded by artists and islanders in 1968, the museum draws visitors from all over the world to its outstanding collection and historic architecture, including a working lighthouse built in 1850.

The museum’s collection of works by leading American artists who have worked on Monhegan is the focus of the museum’s major exhibition this summer, opening Sunday, July 1. The 4 to 6 p.m. opening reception will include a celebratory birthday cake.

“The Monhegan Museum: Celebrating Fifty Years” will feature paintings, sculpture, photography and works on paper by some 70 artists including George Bellows, James Fitzgerald, Robert Henri, Edward Hopper, Rockwell Kent, Louise Nevelson and Andrew Wyeth, among others.

“Monhegan is a small place, but it has had an outsized influence on American art,” said Ed Deci, director of the Monhegan Museum for more than 30 years. “We offer visitors the rare opportunity to experience these defining works of American art within the setting that inspired them.”

Over the years, the Monhegan Museum’s collection has grown to some 30,000 objects, about 1,500 of which are fine art paintings, prints and photographs. All entered the museum’s collection as generous gifts from islanders, artists, collectors and others who treasure Monhegan’s art and history. Masterpieces featured in the exhibition will include Rockwell Kent’s luminous “Village at Night” and James Fitzgerald’s “Gulls Descending,” among many others.

“The Monhegan Museum: Celebrating Fifty Years,” accompanied by a commemorative book of the same name, will be on view through Sept. 30. The special 172-page book features essays by six contributors and is illustrated with more than 100 full-color reproductions and 50 archival photographs from the museum’s collection. It is on sale in the museum shop and on the museum’s website for $40.

In addition to this summer’s main exhibition, the Monhegan Museum also will present a series of public events in honor of its 50th anniversary including a lecture series; a film series; a Golden Jubilee party at the lighthouse Aug. 1; and a special exhibition of the work of Fitzgerald in his former studio. For more information, visit

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or