Museum Buys Land Surrounding Winslow Homer’s Studio to Save the View

The Winslow Homer Studio.
Photo: Portland Museum of Art/Instagram.

Maine’s Portland Museum of Art (PMA) spent $2.3 million on a .57-acre plot of land surrounding Winslow Homer’s former studio on Prouts Neck in Scarborough to preserve the view the legendary painter had of the Atlantic Ocean. The U-shaped parcel of land, which surrounds the studio on either side, beginning at the small road that leads to it, runs down to Cliff Walk, a publicly owned waterfront space. According to the Portland Press Herald, it had belonged to Doris Homer, who died in 2009. She was the widow of the artist’s nephew.

The PMA restored Homer’s studio and has been conducting public tours of it since 2012. It has established a conservation easement for the land surrounding the studio, and donated it to the Scarborough Land Trust, which will ensure that the property is never developed. Homer spent his final 27 years at the secluded seaside studio; many of his best-known maritime images and seascapes were painted there.

“Everyone had the same goals, and that is what brought us together: to protect the view of Winslow Homer,” Mark Bessire, the PMA’s director, told the Press Herald. “It’s the place that’s important. I love the physical building, but the location and the views that Homer had were as important as what’s inside.”

The museum will erect a storage shed, do some minor landscaping, and re-create a path down to the Cliff Walk, but otherwise the property will remain unchanged.

“If the museum changes its mind and wants to build a house, the land trust will say no,” Jeremy Wintersteen, a member of the Scarborough Land Trust, told the Press Herald. “We think of this as a blend of land conservation and artistic heritage. It’s a pretty neat project when those two things are joined. It’s land preservation, but it’s also preserving the heritage of one of America’s most famous painters.”

Fall tickets are now available for the PMA’s 2.5-hour tours of the Winslow Homer Studio.

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