Five Minutes with Donna McNeil



The independent curator and founding executive director of Rockland’s Ellis-Beauregard Foundation on her design heroes, her church-home’s thrilling surprise, and flying saucer art

I always smile when I see…

the 10-foot-tall double doors in my house, which is an 1851 renovated church in Rockland. They’re painted black on the exterior, and then — boom, surprise! — they’re yellow inside.

early-20th-century celluloid powder boxes found at Sadie’s Antiques in Rockport

A favorite collection is…

the early-20th-century celluloid powder boxes I found at Sadie’s Antiques in Rockport. I have them on a stairway half-wall and use them to hold jewelry. I like to think about the ladies who once used them.

a painted plate by an unknown Mexican artist from Marfa, Texas

An unexpected find was…

a painted plate by an unknown Mexican artist I spotted at a hole-in-the-wall gift shop in Marfa, Texas. Most Mexican pottery is brightly colored, so this one stood out. I love that the depiction is so guileless and celebrates women.


I’m reading…

Love in the Time of Cholera. I find it to be a beautiful metaphor for our times. I tend to read in the early morning or evening, but my favorite way is to settle in with a book and read all day until I finish. $16.95.

Saarinen Womb chair from Allen & Walker Antiques in Portland

The designers I admire are…

the old guard — Mies van der Rohe, Eames, Corbusier, Nelson, and Saarinen, whose Womb chair I have in my church sanctuary-turned-living-room. I got it at Allen & Walker Antiques in Portland and tracked down vintage citron Knoll fabric to recover it.

"Referee,' by Anna Hepler

“I’m grateful to the talented Greg Parker, Shoshannah White, and Anna Hepler [whose The Referee is pictured] for creating much of the art in my collection.”

vintage sled from Corey Daniels Gallery in Wells

My go-to local gallery is…

Corey Daniels Gallery in Wells, which juxtaposes objects with art. I got this vintage sled there. I love its orb shape, magnificent scratches, and worn leather handles. It hangs in my stairway.