Barry Mills: The Art of a Maine Summer


Art is alive and well again this summer in Maine, with major exhibitions at Bowdoin and at Colby that are drawing hundreds of visitors a day. President Barry Mills—who has visited both—says these exhibitions say a lot about beauty and talent, as well as the generosity and wisdom of those who make them possible. 

Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 9.25.30 AMThis summer has been very exciting for Bowdoin and for Maine, as the arts in our state continue to thrive and expand.

The Bowdoin College Museum of Art recently opened an exhibition titled Maurice Prendergast: By the Sea. It is a wonderful exhibition with beautiful works of art. Following on our past summer shows of Edward Hopper and William Wegman, the Prendergast exhibition continues our tradition of bringing important works of art to the College during the summer season. Summer is busy, with hundreds of people visiting our museum every week. But the good news is that this exhibition will remain open through mid-October. So, when our students return to campus in just over a month (the summer goes too fast!), they will be able to enjoy this inspiring art and learn from the exhibition.

The Prendergast show is quite special and has been reviewed very favorably, so I encourage everyone to come to campus to see this great exhibition.

While I don’t often write to encourage you to visit a different college, I also really hope everyone will also visit Colby this summer and fall to see the new addition to their art museum, which is now the home of a fantastic gift of wonderful art. Peter and Paula Lunder made a transformational gift to Colby of their personal art collection—a collection that is quite simply awesome. The new addition to the Colby art museum is a great building, but the highlight is the collection that Peter and Paula have so generously provided. Peter and Paula are longtime residents of Maine, and the Lunders together with the Alfond family created this new building for Colby. It is very impressive.

The Bowdoin College Museum of Art and the Colby Museum, along with the other museums across our state are important contributors to the education of art lovers everywhere. They are also cultural institutions vital to the state of Maine, since they bring people from all over the country and the world to enjoy our wonderful surroundings. This is critical for our Maine economy and for the reputation of our communities, and we are justifiably very proud.

Colby Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion

Colby’s New Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion

The support our museum receives from Bowdoin alumni, parents, and friends helps us to create this fantastic opportunity for our community and for visitors. And gifts of art of the magnitude of the Lunder gift are the lifeblood of college museums today. Given the price of art and all of the demands on our precious resources, it is very difficult for colleges and universities to acquire significant works of art on their own. Gifts to places like Bowdoin and Colby are especially rewarding to the donors because these gifts can be transformational and because the art becomes integral to the collections. Museums like ours don’t lock the art away into storage with thousands of other pieces. Rather, we display the art for students to learn and for art lovers to enjoy. What a fantastic way for a donor to create a lifelong legacy that has continuing relevance!

So, come to Maine. This is a magical place year round, but especially in the summer!! I look forward to seeing you on campus.


In the coming weeks, I will continue to offer my thoughts on subjects interesting to me or of importance to the College, but I want to hear your ideas too. If there is a subject you’d like me to address, send me an e-mail at

Previous Bowdoin Daily Sun columns by President Barry Mills are available here or on the Bowdoin website.


  1. Mike Coster says:

    Barry is “right on” about great art as an integral part of the college and
    university scene. One of the greatest “pluses” about Bowdoin (and there are many)
    is our famous world class museum.
    We are so very fortunate.

    Mike Coster ,57

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