What to Know Before Visiting the Bowdoin College Museum of Art

The Southport, Maine, area is known for its longstanding involvement in the arts. The Bowdoin College Museum of Art is just one of many resources that lovers of prints, drawings, and photographs can access in Maine. Free and open to the public, the museum is on a mission to keep interesting collections at the fingertips of Bowdoin College students, faculty, and the general public. Does admiring beautiful artwork sound like a great way to spend an afternoon? We think so!

If your idea of a perfect day includes wandering the beautiful Boothbay Harbor area and learning all about the talented craftsmen who have flourished here through the years, look no further than the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. When in the area, why not continue exploring? Our free Boothbay Harbor Vacation Guide lists all of our favorite attractions near the museum. Request access to the guide for a dose of local inspiration!

What to Know Before Visiting the Bowdoin College Museum of Art

The Bowdoin Museum of Art is Historic

The museum’s legacy began in 1811 when James Bowdoin III donated a portfolio of 70 European paintings and 140 master drawings. Over time, the collection has grown thanks to the generosity of the Bowdoin family and Bowdoin College alumni. Today, the museum features more than 20,000 objects including paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and even prehistoric artifacts from civilizations around the world.

The building that houses the Bowdoin College Museum of Art is a work of art, too! The Walker Art Building was completed in 1894 and occupies a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Its brick, limestone, and granite façade is flanked by large lion sculptures, true to its Renaissance-era architecture. This structure is the architectural cornerstone of Bowdoin College!

The Bowdoin Art Museum Exhibits Are Meaningful

The Bowdoin College Museum of Art exhibits are known for being provocative and aptly themed. These interesting topics cover everything from the role of African Americans in paintings to Egyptian symbols in Greco-Roman art. Six exhibits are displayed at all times; the duration of each varies.

The best part about this museum’s selection of art is that it comes from all parts of the world. For example, the “Palace Reliefs for Kalhu” exhibit features works from stone panels. These panels are from the royal palace at ancient Kalhu, located along the Tigris River (in present-day Northern Iraq). Finally, in addition to a list of the current exhibits, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art archives past exhibits and future exhibits, which is useful for planning a trip around specific interests!

The Museum Shop Is a Great Place to Find Souvenirs

Before leaving the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, be sure to stop by The Museum Shop! Here, visitors are able peruse catalogues of the museum’s collections. Want to bring back a souvenir? This is also a great place to find gifts, jewelry, art books, posters, calendars, stationery, and even toys. You can also donate to the museum when visiting the shop.

Newagen Seaside Inn Is Just Around the Corner

After spending some time viewing one of the country’s earliest collegiate art collections at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, check out a few more of Boothbay Harbor’s art galleries! Bowdoin’s Peary Macmillan Arctic Museum is another interesting way to learn about Midcoast Maine’s rich history. Once you’ve spent hours surrounded by amazing art, come back to a comfortable and luxurious hotel room right on the water at Newagen Seaside Inn! Whether you prefer the bed-and-breakfast feel of our guest rooms or want a romantic island getaway in your own seaside cottage, our accommodations are everything you expect from a preferred historical Coastal Maine hotel, plus much more!

Bayberry Cottage Near the Bowdoin College Museum of Art
If you’re ready for a relaxing stay in Southport enriched with plenty of awe-inspiring art, check our availability and book now! A memorable visit to the Bowdoin College Museum of Art awaits.