Farnsworth honors Wickham Skinner

Jul 11, 2019
Courtesy of: Georges River Land Trust Wick Skinner on the water.

ROCKLAND — On Tuesday, July 23, the Farnsworth Art Museum will host a memorial service for the late Farnsworth Board of Trustees member Charles Wickham Skinner, Jr. Skinner, who died on Jan. 28, had served on the Farnsworth Board of Trustees since 1989, and was Board Chair from 1994 to 1998. The service will be held at the Strand Theatre, 345 Main St., from 11 a.m. to noon, and will be followed by a reception at the museum directly following.

Skinner was a planner, organizer, analyzer, fund-raiser, recruiter, leader, contributor, provocateur, visionary, teacher, mentor and for 30 years, from 1989 to 2019, a member of the Farnsworth Board of Trustees. After a distinguished 24-year teaching career at Harvard Business School, Skinner and his wife, Alice, moved to St. George, where Wick refocused his time, energy and interests to working with non-profits and government at a statewide level. The Natural Resources Council, Maine Public Broadcasting Network, The Georges River Land Trust, the board of the University of Maine System, Bath Iron Works and the Farnsworth Art Museum all benefited from his experience and leadership skill.

In 1989 Skinner joined the Farnsworth Board of Trustees. After three meetings, then President Allen Fernald asked Wick to become the Vice President and take a leading role in re-energizing the board around a major building upgrade to modernize and reconfigure the museum. Wick headed the capital campaign with a goal set at $1.9 million. After three months this first capital campaign ended ahead of schedule, 18 percent over budget, and 73 percent over the consultant’s forecast. Wickham’s 30 years of making a difference at the museum had begun.

From 1994 to 1998 Wick served as Chair of the Board of Trustees. During that time the Farnsworth underwent a seminal transformation: the Newberry department store was purchased and converted into the Morehouse galleries on Main Street; the Pratt Memorial Methodist Church was remodeled to house the Wyeth Collections; the nearby Victorian became the Gamble Education Center; the house next to the Farnsworth Homestead was removed to provide space for a sculpture garden and the house across from it became Julia’s Gallery.  All of this was done under Skinner’s leadership.

Skinner finished his autobiography in 2016. In it he concludes, “Looking it all over now I think that in nearly every activity of my life I wanted to make things better.” At the Farnsworth Art Museum, he did exactly that.

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