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 (AiR) program encourages accomplished artists to create new ways for visitors to experience Acadia through the arts. Most residencies span 14 nights of park-provided housing. Year round "Resident Artist" opportunities are also available for participants who have a home or seasonal residence within commuting distance of the park.

All participants are asked –

  • to host a public outreach activity with park visitors, and
  • to donate within a year one finished work of art based on their experience.

Pieces donated to the program collection are included in an online catalog on the park website, and displayed seasonally in public spaces in the park and surrounding communities.

All program participants may be accompanied for the duration of their stays by one spouse or adult companion or one of their own children age 16 or older.

Resident Artists

Applicants who have a home or vacation property within commuting distance of the park are eligible to participate in "Resident Artist" opportunities. These residencies are not limited to a 14-day period and are intended to offer local artists a chance to explore their relationship with the park more fully. Resident Artists receive a vehicle sticker to access the park year round. They may spend three nights at a rustic ranger cabin on Isle au Haut or three nights in a room at a carriage road gatehouse during available seasons.

Twelve Opportunities

The maximum number of program participants each year is 12. Some residency opportunities may be left unfilled.

  • Visual Art such as painting, textiles, sculpture, fine art photography, etc.
    • One additional Visual Art spot is available for a Resident Artist
  • Writing such as essays, poetry, drama, etc.
    • One additional Writing spot is available for a Resident Artist
  • At Large such as music, dance, indigenous arts, emerging technologies, etc
    • One additional At Large spot is available for a Resident Artist
  • One additional Young Artist opportunity is available in any creative medium for a Resident Artist, age 16 or older, enrolled at a local high school.


The application and jury process is hosted entirely online at (CaFE). The next open application period is expected to be in summer 2023 for residency opportunities in 2024.

Selection Process

  • All applications are reviewed by jury panels of past program participants, subject matter experts, local community members, and park staff.
  • The park superintendent considers and extends official invitations to individual participants.
  • Once all available residencies are accepted, remaining applicants are notified of the outcome of their submissions via email.
  • By early December, a press release is published announcing the names and backgrounds of selected participants.

Jury panels consider applications based upon on the following –


  • Does the artist’s proposal and larger body of work suggest that they can help broaden, diversify, and enhance what has taken place at Acadia previously? (Please review the program’s online catalog.)


  • Does the artist's resume demonstrate competence in their chosen field and that they have a track record of achieving what they set out to do?

Outreach Activity

  • Is the artist’s proposal for a public outreach activity novel, interesting and provide visitors with opportunities to experience Acadia in new ways?

Program Limitations

  • 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 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 more than 60 miles of Atlantic coastline. From park headquarters on Mount Desert Island, it 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.
  • Repeat residencies are considered on a case-by-case basis, but tend to be allowed only after a span of years have passed during which there also have been a significant evolution in the artist’s body of work.
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 choose to break up over multiple visits and seasons.

  • 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 –

  • Apartments on the campus of the Schoodic Institute (available year round)
  • Rooms in a historic carriage road gatehouse on Mount Desert Island (typically available from November into March)
  • A 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 apartments 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.

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.


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.

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: January 5, 2023

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207 288-3338

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