Arts, artists, and creative process

MacDowell's mission is to nurture the arts by offering talented individuals an inspiring residential environment in which to produce enduring works of the creative imagination.

Our Mission, Values, & Vision Watch: Art and Artists Are Made at MacDowell


In 1896, Edward MacDowell, a composer, and Marian MacDowell, a pianist, bought a farm in Peterborough, New Hampshire, where they spent summers working in peaceful surroundings. It was in Peterborough that Edward, arguably America’s first great composer, said he produced more and better music. Not long after — falling prematurely and gravely ill — Edward conveyed to his wife that he wished to give other artists the same creative experience under which he had thrived.

Before his death in 1908, Marian set about fulfilling his wish of making a community on their New Hampshire property where artists could work in an ideal place in the stimulating company of peers. Their vision became nationally known as the “Peterborough Idea,” and in 1906, prominent citizens of the time — among them Grover Cleveland, Andrew Carnegie, and J. Pierpont Morgan — created a fund in Edward’s honor to make the idea a reality. Although Edward lived to see the first Fellows arrive at The MacDowell Colony, it was under Marian’s leadership that support increased, most of the 32 studios were built, and the artistic program grew and flourished. Until her death in 1956, she traveled across the country to further public awareness about MacDowell’s mission, giving lecture-recitals to raise funds for its preservation.

In 2020, MacDowell dropped the word "colony" from its name to continue efforts to eliminate barriers to participation.

Notable Artists

At its founding, MacDowell was an experiment with no precedent. It stands now having provided crucial time and space to more than 9,000 artists.

Learn about our Fellows.

Art and Artists are Made at MacDowell

A two-and-a-half minute peek into the heart of MacDowell’s belief in the power of art to transform society

Some works supported by MacDowell

The following is a small sample of some of the artists and work that have benefited from MacDowell Fellowships:

Benny Andrews various paintings (visual art)

James Baldwin Giovanni’s Room (novel)

Leonard Bernstein Mass (composition)

Willa Cather Death Comes for the Archbishop (novel)

Michael Chabon The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (novel)

Aaron Copland Billy the Kid (musical)

Richard Danielpour Margaret Garner (opera)

E.L. Doctorow Billy Bathgate (novel)

Louise Erdrich Love Medicine (novel)

Jeffrey Eugenides Middlesex (novel)

Janet Fish various works (visual art)

Scott Frankel, Michael Korie, and Doug Wright Grey Gardens (musical)

Jonathan Franzen The Corrections (novel)

Spalding Gray Impossible Vacation (novel)

DuBose and Dorothy Heyward Porgy and Bess (novel and musical)

Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman Last Day of Freedom (short documentary)

Oscar Hijuelos The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (novel)

James Lapine King Lear (new staging of the play)

Audre Lorde Zami (autobiography)

Suzan-Lori Parks Topdog/Underdog (play)

Josh Marston Maria Full of Grace (film)

Meredith Monk Possible Sky (composition)

Paul Moravec Tempest Fantasy (composition)

Andrew Norman Play (symphony)

Gregory Pardlo Digest (poetry)

Ruth Reichl Comfort Me With Apples (memoir)

Faith Ringgold various works (visual art)

Edwin Arlington Robinson Tristam (poetry)

Ira Sachs Forty Shades of Blue (film)

Vijay Seshadri 3 Sections (poetry)

Bright Sheng H’Un (Lacerations) (composition)

Studs Terkel Division Street (nonfiction)

Virgil Thomson Mother of Us All (composition)

Paula Vogel How I Learned to Drive (play)

Wendy Wasserstein Third (play)

Thornton Wilder Our Town (play)

In 1997, MacDowell was honored with the National Medal of Arts — the highest award given by the United States to artists or arts patrons — for “nurturing and inspiring many of this century’s finest artists” and offering them “the opportunity to work within a dynamic community of their peers, where creative excellence is the standard.” In 2007, MacDowell marked its Centennial with a yearlong celebration of the freedom to create.

Blake's Magical Mystery Tour

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Fellows Services Coordinator Blake Tewksbury offered a popular tour of the MacDowell grounds and provided a little bit of background on some of our studios, landmarks, and history. We have captured just a little of that magic on video.

Artes, los artistas y los procesos creativos

La misión de MacDowell es fomentar las artes al ofrecer a personas de talento un inspirador entorno residencial en el cual producir obras perdurables de imaginación creativa.

Nuestra Misión, valores y visión

La Historia

En 1896, el compositor Edward MacDowell y Marian MacDowell, pianista, comprarían una granja en Peterborough, New Hamshipre, en donde pasarían veranos enteros trabajando dentro de un medio ambiente sereno. Fue en Peterborough en donde se dice que el primer gran compositor Americano, Edward, compondría la mayoría de su mejor música. No mucho después—al gravemente enfermarse—Edward confeso a su esposa que quería brindarle a otros artistas la misma experiencia creativa bajo la que el mismo prosperó.

Antes de su muerte en 1908, Marian se propuso el cumplir el deseo de su marido de convertir su propiedad en New Hampshire en una comunidad en la que artistas pudiesen trabajar en un medio ambiente ideal y en compañía de otros artistas. Su visión se conocería nacionalmente como la “Idea de Peterborough,” y en 1906, varios destacados ciudadanos des sus tiempos—entre ellos Grover Cleveland, Andrew Carnegie, y J. Pierpont Morgan—crearían una fundación en honor a Edward con tal de hacer de su idea una realidad. Aunque Edward vivió lo suficiente para poder conocer a la primera ronda de becados, fue bajo el liderazgo de Marian que el apoyo hacia la colonia incremento, se construyeron 32 estudios, y el programa artístico creció y floreció. Hasta el día de su muerte en 1956, Marian viajaría a través del país para diseminar y elevar la conciencia publica sobre la misión de la colonia y daría platicas con fin de recaudar los fondos necesarios para su preservación.

Artistas Destacados

En su comienzo, MacDowell fue un experimento sin precedente. Ahora en día festeja el hecho de haberle brindado el tiempo y espacio a mas de 8,000 artistas.

Aprenda mas sobre los artistas becados.

En 1997, MacDowell fue honrada con la Medalla Nacional de las Artes (National Medal of Arts)—el premio mas prestigioso de los Estados Unidos galardonado a artistas y a patrocinadores de las artes—por “nutrir e inspirar a muchos de los mejores artistas de este siglo" y ofrecerles "la oportunidad de trabajar dentro de una comunidad dinámica entre sus colegas, donde la excelencia creativa es el estándar". En el 2007, MacDowell celebró su Centenario cumpliendo con un año entero en el que se festejo la libertad en la creación.