One might say the Tides Institute and Museum of Art (TIMA) anchors the southern end of Eastport’s downtown Water Street with its location. Yet in a much more meaningful way, TIMA anchors Eastport with its unwavering vision and its confidence to keep restoring, building and contributing to the community.
Let’s face it, Eastport is a town on the edge physically and metaphorically. What was once a bustling hub of shipping activity second only to New York City is now a small working waterfront city that struggles to stay strong in the face of many challenges. Whatever the causes, it is Eastport’s key assets that help it keep going. Those include things tangible such as its geography and its people, those that have stayed and those that have come from away, but also include the intangible such as its energy and its magic. What does that have to do with TIMA? Everything.
At the helm of the museum are Hugh French and Kristin McKinlay who steer efforts to bring outstanding artists’ works to Eastport and strengthen the arts community in the Passamaquoddy area on both sides of the border. What is obviously a love of the culture and art of the region and a desire to save it and celebrate it spills over. Their tireless and inspirational efforts are all about looking forward to what can be and finding the means to get there.
For several years, TIMA spear-headed the Two Countries One Bay event held on a weekend in the late summer. Artists participated by opening up their studios for the public, creating a region-wide driving tour for art lovers to meet art makers, learning about their inspirations, seeing where it happens, and possibly buying works directly. 2012 saw the evolution of the event into Artsipelago, an effort to connect a broader base of arts, culture, history, food, and economy, both for the people that live in the region as well as the growing number of tourists each year.
These larger efforts notwithstanding, TIMA is as its core a museum, exhibiting fine works of art and building its own impressive collection of local artist’s works, and an institute, doggedly creating opportunities for education and advancing the study of art. Scheduling time to visit the museum is a must for anyone visiting Eastport, yet individuals throughout the Passamaquoddy region are touched and benefit from the museum’s efforts which, if put into one word, are magic.