Open Today: 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

Logo for: Farnsworth Art Museum

Maine and the Index of American Design

October 5, 2018 – March 24, 2019

Exhibition Dates

October 5, 2018 – March 24, 2019


During the Great Depression the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, later known as the Works Progress Administration, helped provide employment in the arts between 1935 and 1942. One of the most ambitious of the Federal Art Projects was the Index of American Design, a program that engaged artists to contribute to a picture archive of American popular arts. In Maine and elsewhere, artists illustrated objects comprising two hundred years of the nation’s decorative arts history. Their work comprises a collection of more than eighteen thousand illustrations now housed in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. The Farnsworth exhibition and catalogue feature twenty-four Maine project illustrations from the Index of American Design collection on loan from the National Gallery, along with some of the original artifacts they depict, as well as vintage photographs of this subject matter from 1930s Maine. Maine’s role in the government-sponsored project, which drew objects, artists, and collectors together, invites us to examine more broadly the value of art and national identity then and now.

This exhibition is sponsored in part by Hampton Inn & Suites, and Bagala Window Works