I will start by saying that we live in the area, so are regular visitors to the museum.
The Farnsworth is a wonderful, smaller art museum in the heart of downtown Rockland. In addition to its own varied collections and rotating exhibits it presents throughout the year, it is also a showcase for the Wyeth family's talents. (A favorite past exhibit of mine, Elegantly Attired, focused on women's clothing and accessories - including jewelry - during the Victorian era, that was well displayed along with ample descriptions and explanations of each item.)
The building itself is a nice combination of 19th century and 20th century architecture, the heart of which was funded, at her death in 1935, by the daughter of prominent Rockland businessman, William Farnsworth. Originally named the William A. Farnsworth Library and Museum, it is known today simply as the Farnsworth Art Museum.
The Farnsworth family's homestead is adjacent to the museum and is open to the public. The house, though small, is a wonderful introduction to the family and their way of life. It may be toured in combination with admittance to the museum, or by itself.
Also part of the museum's campus are the Wyeth Center and a research center (neither of which I have been in due to time constraints or time of year we visited).
Roughly a 20-30 minute drive from the museum is the Olson House. Also a part of the museum's exhibits, it is the house featured in Andrew Wyeth's painting, "Christina's World". On approach, it seems to rise up from the earth and provides a fascinating look into Andrew's inspiration for many pieces of work, as well as the lives of Christina Olson and her brother Alvaro, who lived their whole lives there. Though unfurnished and showing its age, the stark, plain rooms create a moody contrast to the colors and movement of nature and life observed through its windows. Be sure to wander down to the tiny family cemetery overlooking the water.
Note that the Farnsworth Homestead, Wyeth Center and research center, and the Olson House are seasonal admittance only, from May through November (check the museum's website for actual dates).
There is a nice gift shop at the museum and, while there is no snack shop or restaurant within the museum, there are enough eateries and carry-out places within walking distance to please everyone.
This is not a quick visit. Just touring the main building can take at least a couple of hours if you stop to read and admire; if you visit the other buildings it will eat up most of a day. Walking shoes are advised as there is much to see both in and around the museum, and you may not be able to get a parking place in the museum's tiny lot.
I would not advise bringing young children when you visit. Like many museums, it does not have play areas or interactive exhibits to help ease the curiosity and energy needs of toddlers and children who are too young to happily stand and wait while adults and older kids take in the exhibits. The museum also doesn't cordon off most its exhibited pieces, so the temptation for restless hands to touch and move things is great.
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