Thursday, June 25, 2015

Afternoon at the Maryhill Museum

Offbeat Museums

All afternoon while roaming around this little art museum, I kept muttering, "Are you kidding me?"  I just couldn't believe I was seeing such beautiful works of art in the middle of nowhere.  Well, okay . . . somewhere.  Like high above the Columbia River on the Washington side.  The above walking man, for instance, looks out on vast emptiness.

The story behind this museum is as interesting as the art it beholds.  Back in 1914, the colorful Sam Hill built this mansion intending it to be his home.  In fact he tried his hardest to make Maryhill, Washington, into a utopian society.  But unlike most of Washington, this area is high and dry.  Farmers struggled.  People left.  And a mansion remained unfinished.

Until that is . . . one of his equally colorful friends, the famous dancer Loie Fuller, encouraged him to turn his unfinished house into an art museum.  She had many Rodins she was willing to sell him.  He could start with those.
Another colorful friend, Queen Marie of Romania, ventured all the way to this place in the wild, wild west to inaugurate it when it was finished in 1926.  There are many pieces of furniture, clothes, art, books and jewelry from her family's home on view in the museum.  In addition, there are paintings from the Boston School and an entire wing devoted to Native American art, especially from this region.  There's a wonderful collection of chess sets and rotating exhibits from contemporary artists.

The Maryhill Museum of Art is small, eclectic and thoroughly delightful.  Much like Sam Hill must have been, himself.


  1. Look at that beautiful view! I love outdoor sculpture. I find many art galleries and museums confining and I end up not staying very long.
    If you're ever in the Seattle area I'll take you to the outdoor sculpture park!