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Woman in ball cap smiles while painting on an easel perched along coastline
Sue Charles, who has a summer home near the park, was a "Resident Artist" at Acadia in 2018.

Photo by Ashley L. Conti, Friends of Acadia


Program Overview

The Artist-in-Residence program encourages artists to create fresh and innovative new ways for visitors to experience Acadia National Park through the arts.

In exchange for 14 nights in park-provided housing over a residency year, participants are asked to host a public outreach activity with park visitors, and to donate within another calendar year one finished work of art that depicts a new perspective of Acadia for visitors that's drawn from their own experience. Pieces donated to the program collection are included in a permanent online catalog on the park website, and displayed seasonally in public spaces within the park, surrounding communities, and beyond.

The number of AiR participants at Acadia tends to be about eight each year. Some residency opportunities may be left unfilled.

  • Four for Visual Arts in painting, textiles, sculpture, fine art photography, etc
  • Two for Writing in essays, poetry, drama, etc
  • Two for "At-Large" categories including music, dance, indigenous arts, emerging techologies, etc

The program typically hosts its annual open call for applications at (CaFE) for residencies in the following year. The next open call for applications is expected to be July 1 through Sept 30, 2022 for residency opportunities in 2023.

The online application process is open to all and selections tend to be based upon prior professional achievement and broader program goals to foster innovation, diversity, and relevance with new audiences. A required application fee of $25 benefits program operational costs, such as participant housing and supplies for public display spaces and outreach activities.

Applications are reviewed by juries consisting of past program participants, subject matter experts, local community members, and park staff. The park superintendent then reviews and extends formal invitations to individual participants. Once all available residencies are accepted, other remaining applicants are notified of the outcome of their submissions via email. A press release is published announcing the names and backgrounds of selected participants.

Program limitations include:

  • Selected artists travel to and take part in the program at their own expense at the invitation of the park superintendent.
  • There is no stipend or support provided beyond park housing, and the possibility of collaborative opportunities with some park staff. Participants are at liberty to use online fundraising campaigns to help cover travel and other costs associated with their residencies, but they may not brand, promote, or imply endorsement of such activities by the National Park Service, Acadia National Park, or the Artist-in-Residence program.
  • Local transportation is not provided. Participants must possess a valid drivers license and personal vehicle. While the total acreage of the park is modest, it spans upwards of 60 miles of Atlantic coastline. From park headquarters on Mount Desert Island, it typically takes at least 75 minutes to drive 45 miles to reach the Schoodic peninsula, and about 90 minutes to drive 56 miles to Stonington to catch the mailboat to Isle au Haut.
Map of Acadia National Park lands along Atlantic coastline

Site Description

Acadia National Park is very highly interlaced with local communities and encompasses about half of Mount Desert Island, all or part of 19 coastal islands, and part of the Schoodic Peninsula on the mainland. It was first established in 1916 as Sieur de Monts National Monument, then became Lafayette National Park in 1919, and Acadia National Park in 1929. The total area of the park now amounts to more than 35,000 acres, with another 12,000 acres of conservation easements. Elevation rises abruptly from sea level to 1,530 feet, with seven mountains above 1,000 feet. All told, it has more than 60 miles of rocky ocean coastline and tidal pools, 158 miles of hiking trails, and 45 miles of carriage roads with 16 stone bridges. Its scenic and diverse landscape includes inland lakes, ponds, meadows, mixed coniferous and deciduous forest. There are more than 50 species of mammals and 300 species of birds, with surrounding waters inhabited by harbor seals and porpoise, lobster, sea stars, and other diverse fish and marine animals.

Rustic and remote ranger cabin
Rustic and remote ranger cabin on Isle au Haut

Photo by Ashley L. Conti, Friends of Acadia

Housing Alternatives

Each residency lasts for a total of 14 nights, which participants may ask to break up over multiple visits and seasons. In many instances, participants may be accompanied for the duration of their stay by one spouse, adult companion, or one of their own children age 16 or older.

  • Wheelchair-accessible housing is available.
  • Pets and smoking are not allowed in park housing.

Housing assignments are based on availability, and the purpose a location may serve a participant's specific residency goals. Current options include –

  • an apartment on the campus of the Schoodic Institute (available year round)
  • a room in a historic carriage road gatehouse on Mount Desert Island (typically available from November into March)
  • a rustic and remote ranger cabin on Isle au Haut (typically available from June through September).

Stays at the remote cabin on Isle au Haut offer an extraordinary opportunity for solitary contemplation and creative expression. However, the cabin is very rustic, without plumbing or electricity, and requires participants to hike two miles on a moderately rugged trail with all of the gear, food, and supplies they will need for the duration of their stay.

Stays in a historic gatehouse offer participants direct access to the intricate carriage road system on Mount Desert Island during late fall and winter. Since the space is utilized as spartan government housing for park employees at other times of the year, the program provides a cache of basic cooking and kitchen utensils, towels and linens. Participants will want to bring ample outdoor layers, a headlamp or tactical flashlight, and foot traction for slick and icy conditions. While there is no internet provided here, there is reliable cellular connectivity from nearby Northeast Harbor.

Stays at the Schoodic Institute are based in a small, efficiency apartment on a campus that was once part of a U.S. Navy base near Winter Harbor on the mainland. The site is roughly 90 minutes from Bar Harbor and most popular park attractions on Mount Desert Island, which can make Schoodic a less hectic and more relaxed and tranquil experience for participants during peak summer visitor season.


Resident Artists

If participants happen to have a home or vacation property within commuting distance of the park, they may be eligible for further distinction as a "Resident Artist" with the program. These residencies are not limited to a 14-day period and are intended to be an opportunity for artists who happen to live here to take a longer and deeper dive into their relationship with the park. These participants receive a vehicle sticker to drive and park on the park road system year round. They may also take a turn at staying a few nights at Isle au Haut or in a carriage road gatehouse during available seasons.

Woman clutching a notebook faces students on a stone wall surrounded by ferns and trees
Writer-in-Residence Kim O’Connell led a guided writing workshop on the stone terrace outside the Sieur de Monts Springs Nature Center in October 2018.

NPS Photo / Jay Elhard

Outreach Activities

Each public outreach activity is planned on a case-by-case basis. They are often hosted in collaboration with local libraries, colleges, community groups, and art galleries. Participants may be reimbursed as much as $150 with receipts for supplies and materials purchased for use by as many as 15 visitors.

Explore an online photo album of past outreach activities.


Display and Disposition of Artwork

To the fullest extent possible, all artworks donated to the program are to be cataloged online and displayed in public gallery spaces within the park, and beyond. Each donation must be accompanied by a brief statement that either describes how the piece reflects the artist’s experience of Acadia, or articulates what new insight and perspective for visitors the artist hopes to convey through the piece.

For visual artists creating physical pieces –

  • Size is limited to 48-inches on any side for two-dimensional pieces, and a footprint of roughly 18-inches square (324 square inches) for three-dimensional pieces intended for indoor display.
  • Portable outdoor pieces will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • Finished works must be donated with frames or cases appropriate for secure public display, transportation, and storage, and must not require permanent installation or alteration of host facilities.

While artists retain ownership of copyright for their donated pieces, they are asked to grant permission for limited ongoing use to the park and its formal partners for program promotion, public outreach, and development of sales items in park bookstores, with proceeds benefiting program operational costs.

Physical pieces donated to the program are not intended to be stored indefinitely, or displayed in private offices. Eventually, all physical artworks retire from the program collection by being offered without cost to other public entities, nonprofits, and park partners. Artists are highly encouraged to express preferences and to participate directly in this outplacement process. Final curatorial choices about which pieces remain active in the program collection are made internally, and will be based primarily on the ongoing interpretive capacity of each piece, and the purpose it serves park visitors in the larger collection


Application Requirements

All applications, without exception, must be completed online through on the website, where you can create an account and manage your application for this and other arts opportunities.

A required application fee of $25 benefits program operational costs, such as participant housing and supplies for public display spaces and outreach activities.

For questions and troubleshooting of your application, please email program staff.

Complete submittals will include:

  • Professional resume and summary of creative achievements
  • Brief description of creative goals, objectives and expectations for a residency at Acadia.
  • Brief description of intended public presentation, including AV and infrastructure needs, and any other expectations of the park
  • Writers and poets may upload a single PDF file amounting to no more than 1,500 words of text (about six pages, typed, 10-point, double-space)

Representative samplings of professional work may include:

  • As many as 20 images, JPEG or JPG only, each no larger than 5 MB and 1200 pixels on the longest side

  • As many as six audio files under 10 MB (AIFF, WAV, XMF, MP3; bit rate minimum 96 kpbs and maximum 320 kbps; and codec aiff, wav, au)

  • As many as six video files under 100 MB (3GP, WMV, AVI, MOV, ASF, MPG, MP4, M2T, MKV, M2TS; Resolution minimum 640 x 480, maximum 1920 x 1080; aspect ratio 4:3 or 16:9; bit rate recommended above 240 kbps; frame rate minimum 12 fps, recommended 30 fps; codec h.264, h.263, mpeg-1, mpeg-2, mpeg-4, Windows Media Video, and motion jpeg mpeg-1 muxed, Apple Lossless; container 3gp, asf, avi, mov, mpeg, mpeg-2, mp4, ogg)


Last updated: March 25, 2022

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