A.E. Backus Museum hosts annual Highwaymen Celebration Weekend

The A.E. Backus Museum & Gallery will present the annual Highwaymen Celebration Weekend Friday, February 18 through Sunday, February 20, 2022 during regular hours each day. Visitors to the Museum can enjoy a range of special offerings, including viewing the special exhibition The Highwaymen: Art / History.

Admission will be free, with activities outside and inside at 500 North Indian River Drive in Historic Downtown Fort Pierce.

The Florida Highwaymen are a loose collective of Florida artists who learned landscape painting techniques and began a creative enterprise of selling their bold and rapidly-produced works of art to customers up and down the state’s Atlantic Coast from the trunks of cars. This movement started in Fort Pierce in the 1950s at a time in the segregated South when opportunities were limited for African Americans, yet they persevered and succeeded. In 2004, 26 of the original artists were inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, and in 2016 the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American Culture and History opened with 18 Highwaymen paintings in its collection.

This year, Highwaymen Celebration Weekend activities include:


The highlight of the weekend takes place on the Museum’s Outdoor Mural Plaza, where people seeking to start or build their personal collections of Highwaymen paintings will be able to browse an impressive selection offered for purchase by professional dealers, specializing in the vintage works of these artists. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about the current state of the art market and to explore owning an original work of art for your home or office.


Visitors to the Museum galleries will enjoy the latest in the annual series of special exhibitions recognizing this extraordinary movement. The Highwaymen: Art / History, including works never before seen by the public, seeks to ground the artists’ skills and technique in the traditions of an art world they had little access to at the time. The special exhibition expands upon the permanent display of Highwaymen paintings on view, a display which includes video excerpts from the award-winning documentary film “The Highwaymen: Legends of the Road.”

A past Backus Museum Highwaymen Weekend. Photo Courtesy of Backus Museum.
A past Backus Museum Highwaymen Weekend. Photo Courtesy of Backus Museum.


The Museum will also host brief 15-minute, limited distance-seated gallery presentations on the Florida Highwaymen exhibition at 11:15 am & 2:15 pm Friday and Saturday; 1:15 pm & 3:00 pm on Sunday. Seating is first come / first served, and will be limited and spaced indoors.


The Highwaymen: Art / History’s closing reception is scheduled for Friday, February 18 from 6:00-8:00 pm, with brief remarks at 6:30 pm. Members are admitted to receptions free; $20 for not-yet members. Join today and support the Museum!

PLEASE NOTE: The City of Fort Pierce cancels the 6th Annual Highwaymen Art & Music Festival on February 19 due to the changing nature and uncertainty of COVID. (For more information, please visit https://cityoffortpierce.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=691)

Special Coronavirus Procedures for Your Safety: Activities will be held outside weather permitting, and inside subject to limited and spaced seating. Visitors are asked to wear face coverings indoors and practice social distancing for the safety and comfort of guests, staff, and volunteers. Thank you in advance for your understanding.​

Currently On View

On view at the A.E. Backus Museum & Gallery through March 6, 2022 is The Highwaymen: Art / History. The famed Florida landscape painters, first known in the 1950s as the artists who sold their work from the trunks of their cars, deserve a closer look. This new survey of more than 50 works, including paintings never presented to the public, brings to light these outsider artists’ innate visions, revealing the inventive style, confident strokes, collaborative spirit, and effective methods that would captivate countless patrons, define their movement, and demand their place in the history of art.

All dates and programming subject to change; please check the website for any updates or cancellations. We appreciate your understanding, your patience, and your support as we navigate the continuing pandemic challenges this season.

A past Backus Museum Highwaymen Weekend. Photo Courtesy of Backus Museum.
A past Backus Museum Highwaymen Weekend. Photo Courtesy of Backus Museum.

Since its founding in 1960 and the first day the doors opened in 1961, the A.E. Backus Museum & Gallery has been a center and catalyst for creativity and culture in our region. The Museum houses the nation’s largest public presentation of artwork by Florida’s preeminent painter, A.E. “Bean” Backus (1906-1990), and is home to the state’s only permanent multimedia exhibition on the Florida Highwaymen.

In addition to preserving and perpetuating the artistic and humanitarian legacy of Backus, the Museum organizes and hosts changing exhibitions from artists of regional, national and international acclaim. The Backus Museum was recognized as the 2021 Best Tourist Attraction / Best of the Treasure Coast by the readers of Indian River Magazine.

Regular Hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 10 AM to 4 PM; Sunday, 12 Noon to 4 PM (closed Monday-Tuesday). Admission is $5 per person; AARP, AAA, and Veterans with appropriate ID receive a $2 discount. Students with school ID, children under 18, active duty military, and current members are always free. Visitors are asked to follow the latest public health guidance for the safety and comfort of guests, staff, and volunteers.

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