Current exhibits

bird wing

Inspired Flight: Highlights from the Collection of the Museum of American Bird Art

May 17 - September 7, 2024

From their awe-inspiring migrations to their curious social behaviors and astonishing plumage, birds inspire us to embrace life, seek joy, notice the world around us, and to ponder life’s mysteries and delicate interconnectedness. Inspired Flight brings together 48 works across diverse media that highlight our complex relationship with birds as well as the varying ways in which artists have engaged with and interpreted birds throughout the history of art. This exhibition showcases some of the most important works from the unique collection of the Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon (MABA), many of which are being shown for the first time outside of Massachusetts in this exhibit. Inspired Flight celebrates the museum’s mission to harness the power of art to connect people to the environment and to one another, and MABA is proud to partner with the Wendell Gilley Museum through this special exhibit. We hope you will be inspired to consider the delicate harmony of the natural world through the wonderful birds in these galleries and the exceptional artists who bring them to life.

Past exhibits

Nature+People = Art

November 9, 2023 - April 19, 2024

For this winter exhibition the Gilley is joining exhibits and programming by presenting selected works from some of the artists who have been People-Nature-Art presenters during the first three years of the museum’s signature monthly series that brings artists of all kinds to the museum to talk about the intersection of their art and process with nature.

Nature's Masterpiece: Elephant Photographs of Peter Beard

August 22 - November 4, 2023

Huck's Ducks

August 22, 2023 - April 27, 2024

Works by Northeast Harbor Artist Richard Huck.

Avian Artistry: Treasures from Maine Collections

May 26 - August 17, 2023

Take a journey with Avian Artistry:Treasures from Maine Collections, one that begins in Maine then ranges through eras, geography, and styles. The result is a surprising—and very personal—story of community and the celebration of visual art. The exhibition includes more than 100 pieces from private collections in Maine, many of which have never before been exhibited in public.

Each work features a bird in some fashion, but the species represented are as diverse as the materials and styles used to create them. An iconic woodblock print from 1857 by Ando Hiroshige hangs near a contemporary sculpture from the 1960s of wood, wrought iron, and brass by Maine sculptor Rudolph Condon. In another room, intricately inlaid Japanese metalwork birds of the early 1900s accompany prints and acrylics from the 2020s.

Birds soar and swim, flutter and feed, dive and hide from room to room, in stone and paper, metal, ceramic, wood and paint, pencil, ink, and even photographs. Both wildly diverse and harmonious, Avian Artistry tells the story of generations of Maine people brought closer to nature by the work of artists born centuries apart, but all inspired by feathered muses.

The Wendell Gilley Museum is grateful to the passionate and generous people who have made Avian Artistry possible by lending treasures from their personal collections.

Moments & Reflections

August 23 - December 17, 2022

Sherrie York is a printmaker and a compulsive wanderer of landscapes. In her linocuts, she strives to represent the interactions of living things, both as a moment in time and as a reflection of the wider experience of life on earth.

As a printmaker she has pushed the linocut medium to be uncharacteristically realistic, treating the application of color as a watercolorist might, by glazing multiple layers of transparent inks. She is especially interested in strong rhythms and patterns between a subject and its environment and pays close attention to the shapes around an object, as well as the object itself.

Her linocuts have been chosen for national and international exhibitions, including the multiples times for the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Museum’s prestigious Birds in Art, and the Society of Animal Artists’ Art & the Animal. Her work is also collected in numerous corporate, private and museum collections, including the Gilley's.

She is also a naturalist and educator, who works with Audubon.

What It's Like to Be A Bird

May 31 - August 20, 2022

May 31 through August 20, 2022

The name “David Allen Sibley” is synonymous with “birding.”

A renowned author and illustrator of seminal birding guides and other books, he has brought a keen eye to observing birds in the field, and to rendering them in pencil and paint in the studio. In his latest book, What It’s Like to be a Bird, he says, "A bird's experience is far richer, complex, and 'thoughtful' than I'd imagined." And he shows the reader that through a series of stunning paintings in acrylic on Bristol board, and we are pleased to share thirty-four of those paintings at the Gilley. It is a a feast for our eyes, and a true birds-eye view of the avian world.

The paintings in this exhibition are on loan to the Gilley from the artist's personal collection, and have been exhibited only once before now. This is a rare opportunity to experience, in person, the art of this master naturalist and artist.

Birds in Focus: Maine and the Beauty of Birds

May 31 - December 17, 2022

Explore the beauty of Maine’s birds through the lens of noted photographer and birder David Speiser, who has been pairing his technical skills and his love of birds for more than twenty-five years to capture portraits of birds in the field worldwide.

Birds in Focus showcases David’s love of birding in Maine. His knowledge, talent and keen eye have create amazing works that capture moments of incredible intimacy in the lives of their avian subjects. The photographs in this exhibition are photographic prints on paper face-mounted to polished sheets of acrylic. This produces a wonderful luminous effect, further enhancing the images.  

The photographer is selling the photos and donating all of the proceeds to the Gilley. 

Light, Sky, Land, and Edges

August 24 - November 1, 2021


August 24 - November 1, 2021

It was the landscape of Mount Desert Island and its shores that inspired long-time friends Tracy Baker-White and Martha Andrews Donovan to work together to create art and poetry together. The exhibition ‘Light, Sky, Land, and Edges: A Collaboration Between Painter and Poet’ celebrates their rich artistic collaboration. This exhibit will be on display at the Wendell Gilley Museum from August 31 to November 1.

Join us on October 9 from 7:00 - 8:30 pm for an online conversation with the creators of this exhibition, Tracy and Martha, and enjoy a wide-ranging conversation about their art, their inspiration, and their collaboration.  Visit our events page to learn more and make a reservation.   

Please note that the previously planned reception on Saturday, September 4 has been canceled.

Birds in Art

June 21 - August 14, 2021

June 21 - August 14, 2021

Birds in Art features work by sixty different contemporary artists, who offer their unique interpretations of the avian world in a variety of media. 

The 2020 show (being shown at the Gilley summer 2021) is the 45th iteration of Birds in Art, an international exhibition organized by the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin that travels to just a few select venues each year. The show features sixty contemporary artists, including Andrea Rich and Don Rambadt - both of whom have been featured in their own exhibitions at the Gilley - and talented Maine artist Sherrie York. Other artists, spanning a wide variety of media and styles, include Sean Murtha, Barry van Dusen, John T. Sharp, Walter T Mathia, David Timothy Mayhew, Andrea Rich and many more!

This Birds in Art is an especially exciting collection of work. Using a range of mediums including watercolor, acrylic, charcoal, wood, and bronze, the artists depict the beauty, spirit, and habitat of birds through approaches that are both classic and innovative.

We are indented to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum for making this show possible, and for sharing great art every year through Birds in Art.  Thank you also to Maine Magazine, the official Media Sponsor for the Birds in Art exhibition at the Gilley.  

Pictured at top of the page; Sherrie York, A Tern of the Tide (1/18) detail, 2020, reduction linocut on Rives BFK paper

Gary Hoyle's Aspects of Nature

May 17 - June 16, 2021

May 14 - June 16, 2021

Swan’s Island artist Gary Hoyle has a unique way of making water and oil work together to create paintings that look like Aerial view of landscapes from another world. These gorgeous paintings will be on view alongside his more representational landscape paintings, which share a beautiful muted and saturated pallete. We'll also be exhibiting some of Gary's realistic animal sculptures and a variety of his watercolors and drawings, many of which show a keen sense of humor. Gary Hoyle: Aspects of Nature opens on May 14. Gary will share his own thoughts on his art and his work during an online program on Tuesday, June 8, at 7pm via Zoom. There is no fee to attend, but registration is required. Sign up  HERE.

Gilley Community Art Show 2020

December 2, 2020 - January 31, 2021


We got creative in 2020, offering classes and workshops outside, via livestream, and on our website. And our community responded by getting creative, too. Scroll through our slideshow to see all the art, and click on individual photos to find out more about an individual piece. To submit a photo of something you created, email it to Melinda Rice-Schoon at

Natural Talent: The Carvings of Harold Haertel

June 23, 2020 - April 3, 2021

Bird carver Harold Haertel was a well-known contemporary of Wendell Gilley. Born the same year, both men became leading names in the world of bird carving, and had successful careers creating and selling thousands of carvings.

See a short 20 second video that shows some of Harold's carvings

Treasures of the Farnsworth: Maine Masterworks

June 21 - October 19, 2019

Treasures of the Farnsworth: Maine Masterworks offered visitors the opportunity to study masterpieces of Maine landscape painting as well as sculpture and works on paper by some of Maine’s foremost avian artists. On view from June 2019 - October 19, the exhibition drew from the remarkable collection of American art at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine.   

The paintings in this show carried us across Maine, with Mount Kineo on Moosehead Lake, Monhegan Island, Seguin Light, Great Spruce Head Island, and our own Southwest Harbor among the many stops. Along the way there were surprises: Sanford Gifford’s rendering of the egg of the roc, a legendary bird of prey; Emily Muir’s view of Penobscot Bay lit up by glorious rays; and one of acclaimed sculptor Louise Nevelson’s rare back-road Maine landscapes.

Curated especially for the Gilley, “Treasures of the Farnsworth: Maine Masterworks” presented a mini-history of American art. Representing the 19th century, there were prime Hudson River School/Luminist paintings by Alfred Bricher, Fitz Henry Lane and Martin Johnson Heade, a pair of George Inness’s ethereal Tonalist landscapes, and a choice example of Willard Metcalf’s Impressionism. From there we moved to the early 20th-century Ashcan School and Modernist aesthetics of Robert Henri, Randall Davey, Leon Kroll, and Marsden Hartley, their canvases marked by bold brushwork. Finally, we were treated to varieties of remarkable realism as practiced by Fairfield Porter, Dean Richardson, Neil Welliver, and Jamie Wyeth.

Highlighting how winged creatures can inspire a range of creative interpretations, a trio of paintings by Jamie Wyeth graced the walls next to iconic reliefs by Bernard Langlais. A gorgeous bronze bird by Nevelson joined a group Edwin Gamble’s abstract aerodynamic bird sculptures in wood and metal, expressing a joyful connection to nature and serving as artistic kin to Wendell Gilley’s masterful carvings.

“Treasures of the Farnsworth” represented a collaboration of two Maine cultural institutions committed to making great art accessible to a broad audience. To year-round islanders, local schools, and seasonal visitors alike the Gilley offered this special opportunity to spend time with an extraordinary collection of art.

wooden bird carvings