History & Architecture

Founded in 1882 as the Portland Society of Art, the Portland Museum of Art is Maine's oldest art institution.

The PMA's collection of more than 18,000 objects includes decorative and fine arts dating from the 18th century to the present, and includes the State of Maine Collection—which features works by artists such as Winslow Homer, Marsden Hartley, Rockwell Kent, Louise Nevelson, and Andrew Wyeth—along with the largest European art collection in Maine, and a diverse range of contemporary work.

Situated at the heart of the downtown arts district in Portland, Maine, the PMA displays its collection and hosts a range of educational and cultural activities in three interconnected and architecturally significant buildings, along with the Joan B. Burns Sculpture Garden. Additionally, the Museum owns and operates the recently restored Winslow Homer Studio, located on the rocky coast of Prouts Neck, Maine, 12 miles south of Portland.

Historic Buildings

Charles Shipman Payson Building

  • Built 1983
  • Architect: Henry Nichols Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners
  • Original construction cost: $8.2 million
  • 62,790 square feet
  • 20,000 square feet of exhibition space
  • Honor Award, American Institute of Architects, 1985
McLellan House
  • Federal-style three-story mansion
  • Built 1801 Architect: John Kimball, Sr.
  • Original construction cost: $20,000
  • 5,000 square feet
  • 3,300 square feet of exhibition space
  • National Historic Landmark, 1970; Official Project of Save America's Treasures, 1999
L. D. M. Sweat Memorial Galleries

  • Beaux-arts style
  • Built 1911
  • Architect: John Calvin Stevens
  • 7500 square feet
  • 4,000 square feet of exhibition space 
Winslow Homer Studio

  • Renovated by John Calvin Stevens, 1883
  • 2200 sq. ft.
  • PMA purchased the Studio from Charles Homer Willauer, the great grand-nephew of Winslow Homer, in 2006.
  • Restored and opened to the public in September 2012
  • Restoration cost: $2.8 million
  • National Capital Campaign: $10.5 million
  • National Historic Landmark, 1966

Museum Chronology

1801
McLellan House Built
1882
Portland Museum of Art founded as Portland Society of Art
1908
Margaret Jane Mussey Sweat bequeathed the McLellan House, and sufficient funds to create a gallery in memory of her late husband, Lorenzo de Medici Sweat.
1911
L. D. M. Sweat Memorial Galleries, designed by noted New England architect renovated by John Calvin Stevens, opens to the public
1976
Charles Shipman Payson promises museum his collection of 17 works by Winslow Homer along with funds to be used on a new building to house them
1983
The Charles Shipman Payson Building, designed by Henry N. Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, opens to the public
2002
The newly renovated McLellan House and L. D. M. Sweat Memorial Galleries reopen to the public
2006
The PMA purchases the Winslow Homer Studio
2007
The PMA purchases the Charles Quincy Clapp House
2012
The renovated Winslow Homer Studio opens to the public