By: Jon Stinson
Bangor- Nestled in Bangor’s downtown, just a short walk from the public library, is an outpost of the University of Maine many may overlook. The University of Maine Museum of Art stands as a pillar of the modern art exhibition in the state; no other collection in Maine specifically features contemporary and modern artists. The museum became a fixture of the downtown area when it relocated in 2002 and has since been an educational and cultural resource for the state as a whole. As part of the university, the museum is often staffed by students, like Senior Museum Educator Kat Johnson once was.
“I got to do things like wash the Norse Sea Goddess statue out in the yard, and also frame an original Goya. They let me do some really cool things aside from just sitting at the front desk” explained Johnson.
She now divides her time between the museum and traveling around the state providing artistic lessons and activities. As Senior Educator, Johnson gets to visit various schools throughout the state that chose to use the museum as a resource for their art programs.
“We try to really work closely with different community partners to supplement each other’s programs, but also try and give as much to the community as we can,” says Johnson.
The museum is heavily involved in the local arts community. They have created shared events with arts groups such as the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, the Bangor Art Society, the Bangor Ballet, had a booth at the recent Maine Science Festival, and will have one at this year’s newly revamped Sidewalk Art Festival later this summer.
Johnson is an active artist as well all while working at the museum she has had her own work shown at the local downtown hotspot The Rock & Art Shop. As an artist, she had a few suggestions for the budding artists.
“You have to have a presence online, and you have to be working all the time. You can’t make anything good unless you make a lot of stuff, you have to make a lot of bad stuff before something good comes up.” chuckles Johnson.
The University of Maine Museum of Art always accepts submissions to support rising artists, though there are some prerequisites. They look for mid-career artists, those who have had their own independent showings, an online presence, and have had articles published regarding their work. The museum’s website has a guideline for submissions on its website; any artist can submit and they will take a look at the submitted materials.
For those looking to get involved with the museum, volunteers are always welcome, there are positions at the front desk as well as helping out in the various educational workshops offered on site.
The museum is a free cultural and educational hotspot in downtown Bangor, visitors can walk in Tuesday through Saturday 10 AM to 5 PM and expect a friendly greeting and a unique depth of knowledge and appreciation for modern art from right here in Maine and around the world.