The Maine Folk Art Trail

Each summer, the Maine Folk Art Trail makes its way across the Pine Tree State, bringing collectors, vacationers, and artists through a variety of museums and markets. It’s one of the biggest slices of pure, unadulterated Americana local to Maine ever presented, and it’s pretty dang cool.

Here’s what happens: Each year, museums can be added to the list of stops along the Folk Art Trail. Everyone participating digs deep into their collections and archives to present works that comprise a comprehensive history of folk art as it grew in Maine through the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries.

Maine artwork, especially folk art, is influenced heavily by the state’s geography, social status, and the need for self-expression. The Folk Art Trail has pieces from school girls and sailors, carvers and cabinetmakers, quilters and painters, all of which offer incredible insights into what daily life was like for the state’s earliest creators.

This project is the brainchild of two prominent folk art collectors in Maine, Charlie Burden and Ray Egan. They wanted to do something a little different for the American Folk Art Society’s annual meeting, and after approaching a few museums, the idea was launched. Museums large and small, mainstream and fringe, have found this to be an excellent driver for visitors. More importantly, it’s a great way to learn about the state’s history through objects.

While the exhibits launch in the summer, they often run well into fall, allowing returning college and university students to see some of the best folk art in the country.

Bates College Museum of Art

Lewiston, ME

Colby College Museum of Art

Waterville, ME

Farnsworth Art Museum

Rockland, ME

Maine Historical Society

Portland, ME

Maine Maritime Museum

Bath, ME

Maine State Museum

Augusta, ME

Museums of Old York

York, ME

Penobscot Marine Museum

Searsport, ME

Rufus Porter Museum

Bridgton, ME

Saco Museum

Saco, ME

Sabbathday Lake Shaker Museum

New Gloucester, ME