IMG_7943Created as a research and studio program in the arts, Haystack’s original mission was to teach fine craftsmanship, develop latent or inherent creative ability, and carry on research and development in connection with the crafts. Over the years, the vision was refined to include the investigation of craft in an aesthetic climate, honoring tradition while acknowledging the rich potential of contemporary visual art. People come to Haystack to develop and discover skills, to nurture their creativity, to ask questions, to reassess their work, and to push into the unknown. The combination of a stunning natural setting, a unique campus designed by award-winning architect Edward Larrabee Barnes, and the focused energy of the school community, provides an environment that supports a serious exploration of craft, ideas and imagination.



1950 Haystack is founded by a group of craft artists, supported by Mary Beasom Bishop, near Haystack Mountain in Montville, Maine. The first sessions held are in ceramics, blockprinting, weaving, and woodworking. Francis and Priscilla Merritt are hired to direct the new crafts program.
1951 First scholarships are awarded in exchange for students’ part-time work on campus.
1961 Haystack moves to its new home at Sunshine on the coast of Deer Isle, Maine.
1964 New graphics and woodworking studios are added, and the first glassblowing workshops are held.
1971 First international session is held, followed by more throughout the decade to include German, Japanese, African, and British sessions.
1978 Founding Director, Fran Merritt, retires. Howard Evans is chosen as his successor.
1979 Gateway lecture hall and performance center is built.
1982 The first Open Door workshop for residents of Maine is offered.
1983 The first Student Craft Institute for Maine teens – High School juniors – is offered.
1984 Haystack’s Scholarship Endowment is formed, creating opportunities for up to 100 technical assistant, work study and minority students to attend annually.
1987 Haystack is awarded the American Craft Council’s Gold Medal Institutional Award for “trailblazing leadership and longtime service in education.”
1988 Stuart Kestenbaum is hired as Haystack’s third Director.
1991 Haystack’s Monograph Series is established to examine issues of philosophical importance to the crafts.
1994 Haystack receives the American Institute of Architects’ Twenty Five Year Award in recognition of the school’s design excellence. Studio Based Learning, a fall workshop for local high school students, and the New England Workshop, a shorter fall session for residents of New England, are offered for the first time.
1998 Scholarship Endowment passes the $1 million mark, creating 15 new named scholarships and full fellowships.
1999 Haystack Mentor Program for area teens is offered. Teens work in the studios of local artist/mentors throughout the winter.
2001 Haystack celebrates its 50th Anniversary.
2003 Campaign for Haystack: Renovation and Renewal, Phase II, is initiated to expand the Gateway auditorium to include exhibition space, and to build a new visiting artist’s studio.
2004 Discovery: Fifty Years Of Craft Experience At Haystack Mountain School Of Crafts, edited by Carl Little, is published.
2005 Haystack completed the Campaign for Haystack: Renovation and Renewal, Phase II, which allowed for the building of a second office structure, the completion of the expansion to the Gateway auditorium, and the construction of a new visiting artist’s studio.
2006 Haystack is added to the National Register of Historic Places. The former Blue Heron Gallery and adjacent home, located in Deer Isle village, were purchased by Haystack, where a Center for Community Programs and the school’s permanent offices will be established.
2007 Haystack staff moved their administrative offices to the new location in Deer Isle village, and the new Center for Community Programs was opened and winterized for year-round use.

The first Haystack Summer Conference convenes.

2008 Haystack celebrates Stuart Kestenbaum’s twenty years as Haystack Director. The first summer exhibition was held at Haystack’s Center for Community Programs.
2009 Haystack launches Campaign for Haystack: Innovation and Community to support facility renovations and community and innovative programs.
2010 Haystack completes Campaign for Haystack: Innovation and Community, surpassing its 1.5 million goal.
The first Art Schools Collaborative conference is offered.
2011 Haystack completes addition to the visiting artist studio – the former space becomes a new fab lab (digital fabrication lab) established in cooperation with MIT. Haystack celebrates the 50th anniversary of its Deer Isle campus and launches Campaign for Haystack: Campus 50th Anniversary in support of historic preservation, campus improvements, and ‘green’ initiatives. The first Haystack Art Schools Collaborative – a conference for students and faculty from ten art schools from the Northeast and Canada – convenes.
2013 The first Open Studio Residency program is offered. Haystack celebrates Stuart Kestenbaum’s twenty-five years as Haystack Director.
2014 Haystack receives an unrestricted $2 Million grant – the school’s largest gift ever – from the Windgate Charitable Foundation to endow the school’s new Open Studio Residency and other, future program initiatives.
2015 Stuart Kestenbaum leaves his position as Director of Haystack after twenty-seven years. Paul Sacaridiz is hired as Haystack’s fourth director.
2016 The Haystack fab lab (established in 2011 in partnership with MIT) is awarded the Distinguished Educators Award from the James Renwick Alliance; this award—the first given to a program—acknowledges the influence of Haystack’s digital fabrication lab on the work that we do at the school and how that work has reached outwards from the campus to impact the broader field.
2017 Haystack celebrates the 35th Anniversary of Open Door.
2018 Haystack celebrates the 35th Anniversary of Student Craft Institute and the 20th Anniversary of the Mentor Program.

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