The Collections

The foremost art museum in the state of Maine, the PMA boasts a collection containing more than 18,000 works of art.

The museum has been acquiring art since 1882, and its collecting areas encompass American art from the colonial period to the present in all media, including decorative arts, as well as western European painting, sculpture, and works on paper dating primarily from the 19th and early 20th centuries. We have particular depth in artwork that relates to the history of artistic practice in Maine and New England. Indeed, throughout the PMA’s collection galleries, visitors can discover thrilling moments of alignment between the history of art in Maine and the far-ranging story about art and culture in the United States, and through these moments, gain insight into the creative legacy of this region—a legacy that thrives today. One of the most celebrated artists representing the importance of Maine within the history of American art is Winslow Homer, whose newly renovated Studio at Prouts Neck is owned and operated by the PMA. The museum’s collection contains significant examples of his oeuvre ranging from his first oil painting (Sharpshooter, 1863) to a late seascape of Maine’s rocky coast (Weatherbeaten, 1894). The PMA galleries foster learning about Homer’s career and his extraordinary influence on American art, with works by his most important predecessors and followers, including such pivotal artists as Fitz Henry Lane, Frederic Edwin Church, N.C. and Andrew Wyeth, Marsden Hartley, Rockwell Kent, John Marin, William and Marguerite Zorach, Alex Katz, Neil Welliver, and Lois Dodd. In addition to American art, PMA holdings of European art and contemporary art by globally prominent artists provide a wider, international context for the understanding of human creativity.

American art from the colonial period to the mid-20th century constitutes the largest proportion and greatest strength of the PMA’s distinguished collection, with important paintings, sculpture, works on paper, and decorative arts. Early works demonstrate the emergence of distinctive painting and craft traditions in the 18th and early 19th century, as artists transformed European styles for an American context.

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The PMA has one of the most lively postwar and contemporary art programs in Maine, offering viewers an ever-changing array of exhibitions of contemporary art as well as a suite of dynamic galleries with art from our permanent collection. Our permanent collection, new acquisitions, and exhibition schedule is primarily American art, with a strong but not exclusively regional focus and has particular depth in the tradition of American figurative practice in the postwar period.

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The PMA is the only museum in Maine and northern New England with significant holdings of European art. The museum, therefore, offers visitors the unique opportunity to experience important examples of European art and to trace the vibrant cultural cross-fertilization that occurred between Europe and the United States, especially during the 19th and 20th centuries. Our jewel-like collection of European paintings, sculpture, and works on paper has a strong emphasis on French art from the 19th to the mid-20th century and German Expressionism.

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Get the most out of the museum with a PMA tour!

Docent Tours

Our Docent tours are led by avid art-lovers and trained PMA experts. They are perfect for groups of 10 or more and can be scheduled in advance—ideal for family reunions, company retreats, and even wedding parties! They’re a great way to make your visit more personalized and private. Call (207) 775-6148 to schedule.

Daily Tours

Didn’t plan ahead? No problem! The PMA offers daily tours everyday at 2pm, no advance planning required. And they’re free with your admission, making the daily tour a perfect solution for most visitors.

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We also provide cell phone tours—for those times you’d like to go your own way and explore the museum individually. Our Gallery Talks provide insight on current exhibitions and specific galleries in the museum. Homer Studio tours offer a unique perspective on Maine’s most famous painter along the rugged shores of Prout’s Neck. And educators, don’t forget to bring your students in for a School tour, which can be scheduled here.