About the PMA

The Portland Museum of Art strives to engage audiences in a dialogue about the relevance of art and culture to our everyday lives and is committed to the stewardship and growth of the collection.

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 Statement

The Portland Museum of Art is an institution steeped in rich cultural history and alert to the opportunities of the future. Our collection guides our exhibitions and educational programs and gives shape to our institutional identity. As a vibrant art institution in the heart of a great American city, we also maintain a steadfast commitment to our community and to our region. PMA audiences can experience the richness of Maine’s artistic legacy and our region’s cultural history, while enlarging their worlds through bridges that extend beyond the borders of Maine and New England. We believe that art can help us understand the vital relationship between the local and the global, and can anchor us as we seek to interpret the most pressing issues of our time.

Across every department, our work at the PMA is informed by our respect for artwork and art makers; by our high level of attention to the complexity of art and history; and by our engagement with our audiences and community, in the past, present, and future.

A Message From Our Director

Dear Members,

One of the things I love most about the PMA—and one of the central tenets of Your Museum, Reimagined—is how we can use our collection and exhibitions to create meaningful experiences for our audiences. As we prepare for the major reinstallation of the entire museum in February 2017, we’re offering an autumn at the PMA that exemplifies the magic of museums: connections.

In September, you’ll begin making new connections the moment you walk in the door, as you’re welcomed into the museum by our latest acquisition: Tim Rollins and K.O.S.’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Prominently installed in the Selma Wolf Black Great Hall at approximately 13 feet high and 34 feet across, this work will immediately become a universal experience at the PMA, just as Robert Indiana’s SEVEN has done. An installation of this nature is a first for Tim Rollins and K.O.S., and it is an honor that the artist collective has chosen to work with the PMA to debut their newest process.  

The artists will also be featured in an incredible exhibition, Unbound: Tim Rollins and K.O.S. This show will highlight some of the group’s most famous work, based on Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, and more. I’m particularly excited about Moby Dick, because it creates direct connections between this exhibition and another on the same floor—Of Whales in Paint: Rockwell Kent’s Moby Dick.

Of Whales in Paint highlights another significant addition to the PMA collection: Lakeside Press’ first edition of Moby Dick, illustrated beautifully by Rockwell Kent. As a critical component of Maine’s artistic heritage and the PMA collection, Kent is a member favorite. Through this exhibition, we are able to highlight the work of one of Maine’s most iconic artists alongside that of a leading contemporary group—Tim Rollins and K.O.S.—who, like Kent, have drawn considerable inspiration from literature.

And, of course, books are heavily featured in our major fall exhibition: The Art Books of Henri Matisse. Members will be able to explore the connections between the written word and artistic practice through one of the leading artists of the 20th century, and I am grateful for our partnership with Bank of America to be able to bring Matisse to the PMA.

It is thrilling to have three significant exhibitions across seemingly unrelated styles, eras, and subjects, interacting and in conversation this fall. These moments showcase what museums can do—create cohesive and enthralling narratives for their audiences—and I’m proud to say that you, our members, will be seeing a lot more of these connections in the months and years to come.

As we broaden our commitment to access and strengthen the kinds of connections we can make, we are working hard to provide you, our members, innovative programs and exceptional value. It’s your continued support that allows us to do what we do, and I can’t wait until Feburary 2017, when we’ll introduce a host of new benefits to your membership. You can find out more details on page 24 of this issue, but more than anything, I wanted to thank you for the support that allows us to make the connections we make every day.

It’s remarkable what you allow us to do, and it’s going to be a remarkable fall at the PMA.

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
info@portlandmuseum.org

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?

November 22, 2016
Director of PMA Store

In the News

Portland Press Herald
November 18, 2016 |

One of the questions we ask ourselves most at the Portland Museum of Art is: “Why do museums matter?”

Bill Williamson – Bank of America’s market president for Maine, PMA trustee and great friend to the museum – recently shared the thoughts of his colleague Rena De Sisto with our members.