Gift Keeps Art Museum Admission Free for Everyone 

An art museum that’s free to residents and visitors of Bangor will stay free for at least another year. It’s all thanks to a repeat gift from a generous donor.The images on the walls at the University of Maine Museum of Art in Bangor change every few months. But what’s staying the same here– the cost to get in. It’s free, for everyone.”We really couldn’t do what we do without the Machias Savings sponsorship, so we are greatly appreciative of this gift,” says George Kinghorn, the museum’s director and curator.He says their doors will stay open for free in 2010 thanks to a 75-hundred dollar gift from Machias Savings Bank. It’s their third gift in honor of the late Ted Leonard, a Bangor attorney and friend of the bank.”Ted and his wife, Sandy Leonard, were very big supporters of the university system and this was one of their projects. We knew Ted enjoyed this and wanted it to be a success,” says Traci Sanborn, senior vice president, Machias Savings Bank.Museum officials say it’s working. Since the sponsorship started, the number of visitors has gone up by more than 50-percent.”Which is enormous. And this year, we have already exceeded our 2008 numbers with visitors,” Kinghorn says. He tells us they’ve already seen more than seven thousand visitors this year.”With the economy the way it is, this is a place where many people can come, and it will not cost for them to get in,” Sanborn says.The museum’s exhibitions change every three to four months. A permanent collection of 31-hundred pieces of art is also displayed on an ever-changing basis.They’re hoping 2010 will be another big year, with their downtown location continuing to draw new people in.”We are getting a very diverse mix of people, from college students to our senior citizens, all across the age spectrum and that’s really something that’s very rewarding,” Kinghorn says. “We work hard at being an open and accessible environment for everyone.”The museum’s newest works will be unveiled on January 15th. They’re open every Monday through Saturday from 10 to five. You can visit their Web site here.