is the mission of the MacDowell Colony?
The mission of the MacDowell Colony is to provide a retreat where highly
talented creative artists can find the natural beauty, solitude, freedom
from distraction, and companionship among peers that will lead to their
What kinds of
artists are at MacDowell?
Writers, visual artists, composers, filmmakers, interdisciplinary artists,
and architects come from all parts of the United States and from many other
When was the MacDowell
The Colony was incorporated as the Edward MacDowell Association in
When did the first
Colonists come? Who were they?
The first Colonists came in the summer of 1907: Helen and Mary Mears.
Helen, a sculptor who had been a student of Augustus St. Gaudens, had made
a bas-relief of Edward MacDowell in 1906. Mary was a writer.
How many artists
have worked at the MacDowell Colony?
Nearly 4,500 artists have used studios at the Colony. More than 200
arrive each year; of these about half are new and half have been to the
Who are some of
the famous people who have been to the MacDowell Colony?
Colonists have won more than 50 Pulitzer Prizes, 7 MacArthur Foundation
"Genius Awards", and 60 Rome Prizes, among hundreds of awards. One should
understand that many famous colonists were not recognized when they first
came to MacDowell.
What are some
of the well-known works that have been created at the MacDowell Colony?
Leonard Bernstein composed Mass, Aaron Copland composed Appalachian
Spring; Thornton Wilder wrote Our Town and A Bridge Over
San Louis Rey; Dubose & Heyward wrote Porgy & Bess and
Virgil Thomson composed the opera The Mother of All of Us.
Who was Edward
Edward MacDowell was the first American composer to be acclaimed by
both Europeans and Americans as an outstanding figure in western culture.
He was born in New York City, but went to Paris when he was fifteen, and
soon afterward to Germany, where he studied, composed, and taught music.
In 1884 he married Marian Nevins of Waterford, Connecticut, who had been
his piano student. In 1888 they moved to Boston, where they lived until
1896 when Edward, considered the outstanding American composer of the day,
was named founding chairman of Columbia University's new Department of
Music. They spent winders in New York City and summers in Peterborough,
New Hampshire from 1891 to 1906. They bought property in Peterborough in
1896. Edward died in January 1908 after a long illness; he was forty-seven.
Who built the
Edward and Marian MacDowell founded the Colony. Edward, a founder of
the American Academy in Rome, knew that artists from different disciplines
enriched each other's artistic life. Edward's productivity in his log cabin
studio in Peterborough inspired them to make a community for fellow artists.
The first colonists came in 1907 when Edward was still alive. Marian lived
almost fifty years after her husband's death and died at the age of ninety-eight.
During the first thirty years she oversaw the purchase of the 450 acre
property, the establishment of a working farm, and the building of twenty-three
studios. To encourage contributions, she performed her husband's work in
piano concerts around the country, starting MacDowell Clubs as she traveled.
Many Peterborough families were generous supporters. After her retirement
in 1946, when the farming enterprises had been given up, eight spacious
visual artists' studios were constructed from the sturdy farm buildings.
Only one new studio building has been constructed since Mrs. MacDowell's
How many studios
Thirty-two, which include twenty-four individual studios, six studios
in buildings that were part of the farm, and two private apartments.
What are the studios
made of? How big are they?
Construction materials vary from rustic bark siding to clapboard, fieldstone,
stucco, brick, and granite --- almost all timbered, gathered, or quarried
from Colony property and built by workmen from the local area. Most studios
are about 20' square, with fireplaces. Many of the visual arts studios
Is the Colony
The Colony has been open year-round since 1955. Only two studios are
not yet winterized. All studios have electricity, heat, plumbing, and furnishings
appropriate to New England and to each discipline.
Do Colonists eat
and sleep in their studios?
Breakfast and dinner are served family-style in the main dining room.
Lunches, packed in picnic baskets, are left on studio doorsteps before
noon. Most Colonists have a bedroom in one of three residential houses.
A few studios have sleeping quarters.
How long do artists
Artists can request residencies of up to eight weeks. Few stay for
less than two weeks; the average stay is five weeks. Almost all Colonists
claim they produced far more work at MacDowell than would have been possible
What does it cost?
How is it funded?
The MacDowell Colony is a not-for-profit institution funded mostly
by contributions. Accepted artists are asked to contribute as much as they
can toward the costs of their stay; residency fees are voluntary. An endowment
covers one third of operating expenses and the rest of the one million
dollar annual budget must be raised each year.
Why is the Colony
Living in Boston and caught up in a hectic performance schedule, Edward
needed a retreat where he could relax and compose. The MacDowells knew
of the beauty of southern New Hampshire and chose Peterborough in 1891.
They rented accommodations each summer until they purchased an abandoned
farm in 1896. Their farmhouse, Hillcrest, remodeled by the MacDowells,
doubling its original size, is the resident manager's home. Edward MacDowell
had many talents, as an architect and carpenter among others, and enjoyed
summers of work and sports in addition to composing music. In 1898 they
built a log cabin studio a short distance from the house, where he could
have privacy and isolation. His music room in Hillcrest and the log cabin
have been maintained much as he left them in 1908.
How does an artist
get invited to the Colony?
Talent is the sole criterion for admission. Age, race, nationality
and ability to pay for residency are not factors. Applicants send information
and work samples for review by a panel of experts in each discipline. There
are three application deadlines. Panelists rotate off after a maximum of
held at the Colony?
No. Artists come to MacDowell to work without pressure to produce or
perform. Small presentations for each other are spontaneous: perhaps a
collaborative evening in the library with a composer and a poet, or an
afternoon reception in a printmaker's studio. These are opportunities to
try out new work or share old work with a small, receptive audience, and
to enjoy the cross-fertilization of ideas.
are there for visual artists?
All visual artist's studios have northern light and plenty of wall
and table space. Two studios are equipped with darkrooms for photographers,
and one is a fully outfitted printmaking facility. Plans are underway for
a studio that will be ideal for sculptors.
Who runs the MacDowell
There is a board of directors with sixty members including artists,
corporate leaders, community volunteers and patrons, with strong representation
from New England. Paid management includes an Executive Director, Deputy
Director, and a Resident Manager who lives at the Colony.
What is the Edward
The Edward MacDowell Medal is a national award presented each summer
at the Colony in Peterborough to an American creative artist whose whole
career has made an outstanding contribution to the national culture. Residency
at the MacDowell Colony is not a requirement. This non-competitive award
rotates between a writer, visual artist and composer. Festivities on Medal
Day, the one day of the year when the otherwise isolated retreat welcomes
visitors, attract hundreds of people. The ceremony is highlighted by a
presentation address given by an outstanding authority in the medalist's
field, and the medalist's acceptance. After lunch, most artists in residence
welcome visitors to their studios.
What is "The l996
1996 marks the centenary of the MacDowells' purchase of the Hillcrest
property. During the summer and fall of 1996, New Hampshire and MacDowell
joined to celebrate MacDowell's pride in New Hampshire and New Hampshire's
pride in MacDowell. More than fifty cultural organizations in the state
celebrated this alliance in programs that presented works by artists who
have been residents at the MacDowell Colony.
does the Colony produce?
The Colony newsletter, published twice a year, tells what recent artists
in residence were working on and describes creative activities of past
residents, with other news. Other publications include a general brochure,
application forms, an annual Report, and two books: The MacDowell Colony:
A History of its Architecture and Development, a picture book with considerable
Colony history; and Medal Day at the MacDowell Colony, with selections
from Edward MacDowell Medal Award speeches. Brochures are available that
contain biographies of Edward and Marian MacDowell, a list of Edward's
works, a history of Hillcrest, and a chronology of the Colony's development.
How can one get
You can visit the MacDowell
Colony on the Web.
By mail: The MacDowell Colony, 100 High Street, Peterborough,
by Telephone 603-924-3886 or by fax 603-924-9142.