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

Almost everyone in the world, at one point or another, has drawn on paper. Whether in pen, pencil, or watercolor, creating art with paper is a near-universal experience, often tied to the wonder and magic of childhood and our first attempts to make sense of the world. Relative to other means, creating artwork on paper is highly accessible, lacking the supply requirements of oil painting or sculpture.

As we grow older, some of us find joy in developing our artistic practices, while most of us are content to doodle on notepads,
in journals, and yes, on scraps of paper. So many professions—in graphic design, architecture, and education—begin through a love of drawing on paper.

It is for this reason that viewing works on paper offers one of the purest forms of experiencing art—we all have taken part in the practice. As a result, the relationship we can have with a work on paper is among the most intimate we can experience with art, making connections between the work and the individual that created it.

Masterworks on Paper: Highlights from the Portland Museum of Art perfectly captures the possibility and promise of art, drawing you in, creating connections, and expanding your world. Through this exhibition, we are inviting audiences to have personal and unique relationships with these exceptional artworks, connecting to the works of the world’s most beloved artists and strengthening the role art plays in our daily lives.

If you have yet to visit the exhibition, there’s still time. And if you’ve already experienced Masterworks, come back again on April 6, to see some of the exciting new works we’ve rotated in—it will be like seeing the exhibition again for the first time.

This exhibition is part of the first phase of Your Museum, Reimagined, unveiling the PMA collection in stunning new ways and improving access to these exquisite works. None of it would be possible without the boundless generosity and support of our members. Thank you.

 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?

May 11, 2016
Content Writer and Editor
Maine-made movies are among the most popular at PMA Films. The latest such film, a dreamlike look at the last summer of a girl's childhood before she leaves her island home, will show you why audiences love local cinema.

In the News

Portland Press Herald
May 26, 2016 |

A new sculpture by one of Maine’s best-known contemporary sculptors has been acquired by the Portland Museum of Art and will be installed Thursday in the museum’s outdoor sculpture garden on High Street.

John Bisbee’s “Hearsay” sculpture represents a giant cone made of brightly colored 12-inch spikes or nails. It has been on display in the museum’s Great Hall.

Graeme Kennedy, the museum’s spokesman, said the sculpture will be shown permanently in the Joan B. Burns Garden. It will be taken through the front entrance of the Charles Shipman Payson building and down High Street to the garden, where it will be installed Thursday morning.

Kennedy said the museum’s decision to put the sculpture on public view in the garden “demonstrates its commitment to public art and its important role in Portland.”

Bisbee lives in Brunswick. His work has been reviewed by The Boston Globe, The New Yorker and The New York Times.