The first moment one enters the OMAA is probably the most breathtaking. After opening the doors, I was immediately confronted with the immense glass wall of its main gallery, which overlooks an incredible view of the coast and horizon -- nearly a work of art in itself.
Built in 1953, the museum is low-slung, with shallow sloping roofs, modest overhangs, and horizontal planes nestled into the rocky site—it's easy to see Frank Lloyd Wright's sweeping influence on architect Charles S. Worley. Elements of both mid-century American modernism and Classical Greek architecture mix to create this original piece of regional Maine architecture.
Museum founder and philanthropist Henry Strater wanted the structure to be built from predominantly local materials -- he even garnered his artist and lobstermen friends to scour the South Berwick Church rubble to build the granite lintels that you see above the doorways! Strater originally wanted the building to sit along the lively street, but luckily, Worley convinced him that perching it towards the Atlantic would be a winning move. Today, its permanent collection boasts works of Marsden Hartley, Eliot O'Hara, Reginald Marsh, Charles Woodbury, and other artists associated with the legendary Ogunquit arts colony.
After sunbathing on the cliff rocks, musing into the reflecting pool, and dancing through the sculpture garden, I left the OMAA satisfied, rejuvenated, and in full agreement with Metropolitan Museum of Art Director Francis Henry Taylor -- that it could very well be "the most beautiful little museum in the world."
Besides writing and designing, Tiffany Chu's passions include photography, cartography, and all things Scandinavian.
We’re inviting you to join us to create a place where we can inspire and share with each other every day, collaborate on collections, projects and stories, ask questions, discuss and debate ideas.