About the PMA

The Portland Museum of Art strives to enrich the lives of people through acquisition, preservation, and interpretation of the visual arts and the museum's architecturally significant buildings.

With an extensive collection and nationally renowned exhibitions, the Portland Museum of Art is the cultural heart of Portland, Maine. The PMA boasts significant holdings of American, European, and contemporary art, as well as iconic works from Maine—highlighting the rich artistic tradition of the state and its artists. The museum brings it all to life with unparalleled programming. From special members-only events, Free School Tours, and a commitment to family activities to PMA Films, curator talks, and exclusive tours of the Winslow Homer Studio—it’s all happening at the PMA.

Our Vision

The Portland Museum of Art creates outstanding exhibitions and educational programs to inspire our audiences. We embrace our rich past, dynamic present, and vibrant future to be a vital arts center for the city, region, and nation. Leveraging the strength of our collection, scholarship, and geographic location, we will excel in these distinct areas:

The ongoing exploration of the creative culture of the state of Maine within the context of American art and culture.
The interpretation of European modernism through our collection and programs.
The presentation of progressive exhibitions beyond our collection that address local and global issues.
The integration of our unique architectural campus into the fabric of Portland and the state of Maine.

The Portland Museum of Art strives to engage our audiences in a dialogue about the relevance of art and culture to our lives. Aspiring to facilitate this conversation through exhibitions, programs, and partnerships, we dedicate ourselves to serving and supporting our local and national community. In order to provide a learning environment for our audiences, we commit ourselves to good governance, professional development, and fiscal responsibility.

A Message From Our Director

“Sometimes a small push will give motion to a big body.”
- Margaret Jane Mussey Sweat in a letter to John Calvin Stevens, circa 1903, regarding her donation of the McLellan House and financing of the L.D.M. Sweat Memorial Galleries

In a series of letters with architect John Calvin Stevens around 1903, some 20 years after the founding of the Portland Society of Art, Margaret Jane Mussey Sweat wrote this line with regards to the museum she would fundamentally shape.

Before Sweat passed away in 1908, she allocated $100,000 of her estate toward the construction of the L.D.M. Sweat Memorial Galleries—named for her late husband Lorenzo de Medici Sweat—and also donated the home they shared together, the McLellan House.

These two buildings provided a permanent home for the Society— later known as the Portland Museum of Art, or PMA—and rooted the museum as the cultural heart of the state of Maine.

In the years and decades since, the PMA has continued the tradition Sweat put into motion more than 100 years ago—adding a robust collection of art by Winslow Homer through the generosity of Charles Shipman Payson; constructing the modern home of
the PMA, the Charles Shipman Payson Building; purchasing the Charles Q. Clapp House and property adjacent to the museum; and most recently, purchasing, restoring, and reopening the Winslow Homer Studio and surrounding land, preserving Homer’s views of Prouts Neck for generations to come.

It’s with this understanding of the PMA’s rich and storied past that the museum’s next steps become clear. With more than 135 years of history, prosperity, and expansion, the time has come for the PMA to further Sweat’s principles—to become the next iteration of the Portland Museum of Art.

Over the next year, the PMA will fundamentally change the way audiences experience the museum. This period will be marked by a renewed dedication to the museum’s collection and consideration of its presentation in our galleries. Through careful and strategic planning, the experiences with art at the PMA will be better than ever.

We will reinvent the ways in which members and visitors engage with our art, leading to vastly improved and transformational experiences.

We will rethink our public programming, inviting the public to come together in meaningful and lasting ways.

We will open up our collection to the world through online
digital access and welcome academics and enthusiasts to view artworks in person at our brand new Peggy L. Osher Art Study and Collection Committee Conference Room.

We will change the way people interact with our art and each other when they visit the museum, with redesigned maps, progressive interpretive materials, and interactive learning stations.

Finally, we will unveil our collection in stunning new ways, highlighting the strength of our past and present, while staking our claim to an unbelievable future.

It's Your Museum, Reimagined.

 Mark H. C. Bessire, Director

In June 2015, the PMA was awarded an Assessment Grant from the Grants to Green Maine program, a partnership between the Maine Development Foundation’s Maine Downtown Center, Efficiency Maine and the Maine Community Foundation.

The Grants to Green Maine program provides environmentally focused knowledge and funding to strengthen nonprofits located in historic buildings in downtowns in Maine, and has helped the PMA commission an Energy Audit, from local engineering firm Sparhawk Group. This assessment is identifying opportunities for the Museum to institute energy conservation measures, furthering its commitment to being a sustainable organization and allowing more of its resources to be directed to its core mission.

Grants to Green Maine is a partnership between the Maine Development Foundation’s Maine Downtown Center, Efficiency Maine and the Maine Community Foundation and is funded by Kendeda Fund of The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.

Become a Member

Members enable the PMA to provide spectacular programming, unique exhibitions, and remarkable events. They believe in the transformative power of the arts. They value community. If this sounds like you, we invite you to explore the many levels of membership available at the PMA and become a part of something special.

Museum History & Architecture

Photo by Craig Becker

Originally founded as the Portland Society of Art, the Museum used a variety of exhibition spaces until 1908. That year Mrs. Margaret Jane Mussey Sweat bequeathed her three-story mansion, now known as the McLellan House, and sufficient funds to create a gallery in memory of her late husband, Lorenzo de Medici Sweat. Noted New England architect John Calvin Stevens designed the L. D. M. Sweat Memorial Galleries, which opened to the public in 1911.

Contact Us

Portland Museum of Art
Seven Congress Square
Portland, Maine 04101
(207) 775-6148
(207) 773-7324 Fax

Key Facts & Stats

Founded in 1882

Located in the downtown arts district in Portland, Maine

Maine's largest and oldest public art institution, founded in 1882

With more than 8,000 members, the PMA boasts a strong base of loyal support both locally and regionally

Recognized as "one of the best medium-size museums in New England," by Boston Globe

Largest collection of European art north of Boston

Comprehensive collection of Winslow Homer's graphics

140,000 visitors per year

Nearly 6,000 schoolchildren per year

More than 18,000 objects of fine and decorative arts in the collection, dating from the 18th-century to the present

Approximately 10 changing exhibitions per year

What's Going on at the PMA?

February 3, 2016
Director of PMA Store

In the News

Portland Press Herald
February 10, 2016 |

Married filmmakers Desi Van Til and Sean Mewshaw of Portland will be sending out their valentines a little early this year, on movie screens across the country.