bird carvings

Permanent Collections

swallow flying

Collection catalog

We are working to catalog all of the objects in the museum's collections, including carvings by Wendell Gilley and other important carvers; two-dimensional art, including prints and paintings by contemporary artists; and two important portfolios: Audubon's Birds of America and Tyson's Birds of Mount Desert.

When it is finished, the museum's entire collection and archives will be freely accessible to the public. We expect the catalog will take five years to complete - but as records are added, they become available for viewing. Click on the link below to see our progress so far. 

View the catalog here: Online catalog


Our Collection

Our collection includes more than 300 carvings by renowned bird carver Wendell Gilley, who carved thousands of birds in his lifetime (more than 10,000 by his own count!). In addition, our permanent collection holds a full Birds of America elephant-size reproduction portfolio by Audubon and a Birds of Mount Desert original portfolio by Tyson. Prints from these two portfolios are often on view. We also have a small, but growing, collection of two- and three-dimensional works by contemporary artists, including painter and writer Gail Gibbons, printmaker Andrea Rich and sculptor Don Rambadt, among others.

Works by Wendell Gilley

See pictures of Gilley's carvings.

The Wendell Gilley Museum’s collection of bird carvings by its namesake includes pieces made between 1931 and 1983, from his first piece (a primitive miniature mallard drake) to a life-size king eider drake made especially for the Museum. The carver’s wife, Addie Gilley, created the core of the collection by diligently saving more than 100 works during a 50-year period. Her "nest egg" enabled the Museum to open in 1981 with excellent representations from all eras of her husband’s carving career. The museum continues to acquire and borrow more of Wendell's work to share with our members and visitors through the generosity of donors and lenders.

Works by other Artists

Many additional works have been added to the collection, primarily through the generosity of private donors and lenders. We currently have a wonderful large wall relief, by Maine artist Bernard Langlais, on loan from local museum member Hilary Harwood. We also have more than thirty miniature carvings by Elmer Crowell, one of the giants in the field of bird carving, as well as more than eighty carvings by important carver Harold Haertel, who was born the same year as Wendell Gilley. Harold Haertel's carvings are on loan courtesy of his son, Tom Haertel, and will be on view through 2020. Read more on our Exhibitions page. As noted, we also have a variety of two-dimensional works and sculptures by noted contemporary artists. 

Watch a 20-second video that shows some of Harold Haertel's carvings.

wooden bird carvings