Pikachu, say hello to Winslow Homer.

Pikachu, say hello to Winslow Homer.

Please Note: Playing PMA Go is easy. No downloads or installation is necessary. Just visit PMAgo.org on your mobile device and begin collecting! The game is available to be played across the entire Portland peninsula. Share your collection with your friends on social, and collect your rewards by visiting the PMA.

This summer, people of all ages have been exploring their communities in new ways thanks to the game Pokémon Go, an online game in which players use their phones to catch every Pokémon creature in their area. Beginning today, however, if you see people hunched over their phones and searching their surroundings in Portland, Maine, they might be looking for something different—fine art.

Today the Portland Museum of Art (PMA), in conjunction with The VIA Agency, launches PMA Go, a web-based, art-collecting game inspired by Pokémon Go. Instead of capturing Wartortles, Kakunas, and Vileplumes, players can amass an art collection of Homers, Renoirs, and Wyeths that generates real world rewards. While many art museums—including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Whitney Museum of American Art—have embraced Pokémon Go as a way to draw visitors into their museums, the PMA is the first art museum in the country to use the premise of Pokémon Go to get its art collection out into the community.

PMA Go invites users to explore the streets of Portland, Maine—one of the country’s top destinations with unparalleled restaurants, natural beauty, and top breweries—and discover the breadth of the PMA’s collection. As players amass their art collection by “catching” great works of art around town, they receive real world rewards from the museum, including free admission, free PMA Films tickets for members, and if they find all 18 works, a free copy of The Collection: Highlights From The Portland Museum of Art ($24.95 value).

“It’s a perfect way to get people out and about in our city, while discovering incredible works of art,” says PMA Director Mark Bessire. “We’ve been looking for unique opportunities to share our collection beyond the bricks of our campus, reimagining what art can do and the role it can play in our day to day lives. PMA Go is a fun, lighthearted way to make connections between the PMA collection and our community.”

The game also supports the mission of the PMA’s multiyear project, Your Museum, Reimagined, which is focused on engaging the public with the PMA’s collection in new and exciting ways. “The launch of PMA Go serves as an ideal precursor to the changes and improvements visitors will experience when we reinstall the entire museum this winter,” adds Elizabeth Jones, Director of Audience Engagement and Communications. “I can’t think of a more engaging way to get to know the museum’s collection as we prepare for the final phase of Your Museum, Reimagined.”

Another tenet of Your Museum, Reimagined is an increased focus on community partnerships—and PMA Go was developed in collaboration with Ad Age’s 2011 Small Agency of the Year, The VIA Agency. Located mere steps from the Portland Museum of Art, The Via Agency has helped some of the world’s most recognizable brands and innovative enterprises, such as Unilever, Perdue Foods and Facebook, to create ground-breaking campaigns that reflect their own unique styles. Leeann Leahy, CEO of The VIA Agency and PMA Board member, helped set the project in motion after witnessing the other innovative ways the museum was approaching audience engagement.

“Art is an important part of the cultural conversation in Portland and the PMA is at the center of that,” says Leahy. “To have such a wonderful museum right in our own backyard is a gift and we wanted to give them something in return by creating a dynamic way to get the word out. PMA Go is a fun, interactive way to help encourage new audiences engage with the world-class art the museum offers.”

Together, teams at The VIA Agency and the PMA worked over the course of about four weeks, gathering images and pairing them with locations throughout the city, along with short, lighthearted tidbits of info about each work.

“It’s just fun,” says Bessire, “and museums could always use a little more fun.”

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September 1, 2016
Director of Communications

Graeme is a Maine native who, after ten years living in New York and the west coast, decided to come back and set up shop in Portland. In addition to the PMA, he's held positions at GQ, Rogues Gallery, and Might & Main. He lives in Yarmouth, where he spends most of his free time with his daughters, Ramona and Maude.