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Portland Museum of Art: Immerse Yourself in Art and Culture at Maine’s Premier Art Museum

Portland Museum of Art Gallery (HI)
Discover the stunning collections and exhibitions at the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine. Plan your visit and immerse yourself in art, culture, and creativity.

The Portland Museum of Art: Where Art, Community, and Inspiration Converge

Portland, Maine, is a charming coastal city known for its scenic lighthouses, delicious seafood, and vibrant arts scene. Among the many cultural attractions in Portland, the Portland Museum of Art stands out as a must-visit destination for tourists and art enthusiasts alike.

Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine

Visitors to the PMA can explore a range of galleries and gardens at its location in 7 Congress Square, right in Portland’s vibrant downtown arts district. With an admission of $18 for adults and free entry for those 21 and under, the museum offers accessibility to people of all ages. Additionally, the PMA opens its doors to the public for free on Friday evenings from 4-8 p.m., making it an ideal spot for an evening of cultural enrichment.

Portland Museum of Art Entrance in Portland, Maine

The museum’s permanent collection includes the Joan Whitney Payson Collection and gifts from various benefactors, ensuring a rich and varied exhibit. From the stunning pieces by Gustave Courbet to the renowned “The Seine at Vétheuil” by Monet, the Portland Museum of Art offers a comprehensive guide to understanding the evolution and impact of visual arts. Whether you’re an art connoisseur or a curious traveler, the PMA promises an enriching and memorable experience.

The Seine at Vétheuil" by Monet at the Portland Museum of Art
The Seine at Vétheuil” by Monet at the Portland Museum of Art


History and Background of the Portland Museum of Art

Founded in 1882, the Portland Museum of Art has a rich history spanning over a century. Throughout the years, the museum has undergone significant milestones, expansions, and renovation projects to enhance its collections and visitor experience.

Portland Museum of Art circa 1900


Foundation and Evolution

Founded in 1882, the Portland Museum of Art began its journey to become a central figure in promoting American art in Maine. Its collection started small but grew quickly, focusing on 19th and 20th-century American works.

Significant donations and acquisitions over time have expanded its permanent collection, including pieces from Winslow Homer, a renowned American artist. Homer’s studio, also part of the museum, is a critical aspect of PMA’s history, reflecting its dedication to preserving important art history elements.

Homer Winslow Studio as part of the Portland Museum of Art
Homer Winslow Studio as part of PMA


Architectural Significance

The PMA’s architectural journey began with its 1882 building, but one of the most significant changes came in 1983 with the addition of the Charles Shipman Payson Building. This building, designed by I. M. Pei, a world-renowned architect, significantly elevated the museum’s profile.

Charles Shipman Payson Building designed by I. M. Pei - Portland Museum of Art
Charles Shipman Payson Building designed by I. M. Pei – Portland Museum of Art


The PMA Expansion

The upcoming $100 million expansion of the Portland Museum of Art aims to further enhance its space and offerings. LEVER Architecture, known for its innovative use of mass timber, was selected to lead this ambitious project.

This expansion will bridge the existing structures and introduce new galleries and community spaces. The integration of mass timber will not only modernize the museum but also highlight sustainable building practices. This project promises to solidify the PMA’s status as a leading institution for American art in Maine.

Artist Rendering of Proposed Portland Museum of Art Expansion

For more details on the expansion, you can visit Portland Museum of Art Expansion.


Highlights of the Museum’s Collections

The Portland Museum of Art boasts a diverse collection of artworks, ranging from classical European masterpieces to contemporary American art. Visitors can explore an impressive array of paintings, sculptures, prints, and decorative arts from various periods and styles.

Portland Museum of Art Exhibits


Permanent Collection Highlights

The permanent collection includes significant works by renowned artists such as Winslow Homer and Louise Nevelson. Visitors can explore a variety of paintings and sculptures that reflect different artistic periods and styles.

Untitled (Female Nudes), 1930s - Louise Nevelson - Portland Museum of Art
Untitled (Female Nudes), 1930s – Louise Nevelson – Portland Museum of Art

Noteworthy pieces from the collection include:

  • Winslow Homer’s marine landscapes
  • Louise Nevelson’s intricate sculptural works, etchings, paintings & drawings
  • Claude Monet’s Impressionist paintings
  • Andy Warhol’s contemporary pieces

One of the museum’s most significant collections is the Winslow Homer Collection. Homer, a celebrated American artist, spent the last years of his life in Maine, and the museum holds an extensive collection of his works, including iconic paintings like “Weatherbeaten” and “Sunlight on the Coast.”

"Weatherbeaten" 1894 by Winslow Homer
“Weatherbeaten” 1894 by Winslow Homer

The European Art Collection features works by prominent artists such as Renoir, Monet, and Degas, while the American Art Collection showcases masterpieces by Winslow Homer, Andrew Wyeth, and other notable American artists.

L'Estaque, 1885-1890 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
L’Estaque, 1885-1890 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

The museum also places a strong emphasis on contemporary art, with regular exhibitions and acquisitions showcasing the works of both established and emerging artists.

New York - Paris No. 2, 1931 by Stuart Davis
New York – Paris No. 2, 1931 by Stuart Davis

The museum’s efforts in preserving and showcasing these artworks make it a treasure trove for art enthusiasts.


Photography and Contemporary Art

The museum also places a strong emphasis on photography and contemporary art. It hosts various exhibitions that showcase cutting-edge works by modern artists.

"Auction Notice," 1931 by Peggy Bacon
“Auction Notice,” 1931 by Peggy Bacon

Significant exhibitions include:

  • Peggy Bacon: Biting, Never Bitter
  • Modern photography collections that challenge traditional perspectives
  • Contemporary sculptures and installations

This ongoing focus helps to foster a connection between historical artwork and current artistic trends, providing visitors with a well-rounded art experience.


Indigenous Art and Artworks

The Portland Museum of Art is dedicated to presenting and preserving Indigenous art. Its collection features important works that highlight Indigenous artistic traditions and cultural heritage.

Portland Museum of Art

Key aspects include:

  • Traditional artifacts and contemporary interpretations
  • Artworks showcasing Indigenous narratives and history
  • Exhibitions focusing on the contributions of Indigenous artists

This collection serves as a vital reminder of the diverse cultural history and artistic expression of Indigenous communities.

Portland Museum of Art canoe


Interesting Facts about the Portland Museum of Art

  • The museum holds over 18,000 artworks in its permanent collection.
  • The McLellan House, built in 1801, is the oldest building used as part of the museum complex.
  • The museum’s Winslow Homer Studio, located in Prouts Neck, Maine, is a separate facility where visitors can experience the artist’s living and working space.
  • The museum offers free admission every Friday evening from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • The museum has a dedicated family space called the “Peggy L. Osher Art Study and Collection Committee Room,” where children can engage in interactive art activities.
  • The museum’s biennial exhibition, “Portland Museum of Art Biennial,” showcases the works of contemporary artists from Maine and beyond.
Martha Graham - American Document (1938) by Barbara Morgan
Martha Graham – American Document (1938) by Barbara Morgan


Visiting the Portland Museum of Art

The Portland Museum of Art is conveniently located in the heart of downtown Portland, making it easily accessible for visitors. The museum offers ample parking and is fully handicap accessible.

Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine

Visitors can enjoy the museum’s collections and exhibitions during its regular hours of operation, which are Wednesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission prices vary, with discounts available for seniors, students, and children. The museum also offers guided tours, audio guides, and family-friendly activities to enhance the visitor experience.

Target Audience _ Pink Helmet (2019) by Reggie Burrows Hodges
Target Audience _ Pink Helmet (2019) by Reggie Burrows Hodges


Tips for Making the Most of Your Visit

To make the most of your visit to the Portland Museum of Art, plan to spend at least 2-3 hours exploring the collections and exhibitions. Start with the permanent collections and then move on to the temporary exhibitions for a well-rounded experience.

Exploring Portland Museum of Arts Exhibits

If you want to avoid crowds, consider visiting on weekday mornings or during the museum’s free Friday evenings. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Winslow Homer Studio in Prouts Neck for a unique insight into the artist’s life and work.

You can download a digital version of the PMA Map, available in multiple languages including Arabic, Spanish, and Chinese. This helps non-English speakers navigate the museum easily. For group visits or school tours, reservations are required. Options for personalized tours range from self-guided experiences to docent-led explorations.


Museum Amenities and Services

The Portland Museum of Art offers a range of amenities and services to enhance your visit. The museum store sells a curated selection of art books, prints, and gifts inspired by the museum’s collections. The café offers a delightful selection of light fare and beverages, perfect for a quick break between gallery visits.

Portland Museum of Art Cafe

The museum also offers rental spaces for private events, such as weddings, corporate gatherings, and social celebrations. Membership programs provide exclusive benefits, including free admission, discounts, and special event invitations.


Portland Museum of Art’s Role in the Community

The Portland Museum of Art plays a vital role in Portland’s arts and culture scene. Through partnerships with local organizations and businesses, the museum contributes to the city’s vibrant creative community.

Portland Museum of Art Community Events

The museum also offers outreach programs and community events, such as artist talks, workshops, and family days, to engage with diverse audiences and promote the appreciation of art.


Nearby Attractions and Amenities

While visiting the Portland Museum of Art, take the opportunity to explore other nearby cultural attractions, such as the Maine Historical Society, the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, and the Portland Observatory.

Portland Observatory in Portland, Maine
Portland Observatory in Portland, Maine

Portland also offers a wide range of dining options, from casual cafes to fine-dining restaurants, featuring fresh local seafood and farm-to-table cuisine. Visitors can find a variety of accommodations, from boutique hotels to charming bed and breakfasts, to suit their preferences and budget.


Support Maine’s Arts and Culture: Visit the Portland Museum of Art Today

The Portland Museum of Art is a true gem in the heart of Portland, Maine. With its impressive collections, engaging exhibitions, and commitment to community outreach, the museum offers a enriching and memorable experience for visitors of all ages and backgrounds.

Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine

As you plan your Maine travel itinerary, be sure to include a visit to the Portland Museum of Art. Immerse yourself in the world of art, discover the works of renowned artists, and experience the vibrant arts and culture scene that Portland has to offer.


Frequently Asked Questions about the Portland Museum of Art

The following are answers to some common questions about the Portland Museum of Art.

What are the museum’s hours of operation?

The Portland Museum of Art is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, and major holidays.

How much does admission cost?

As of 2023, admission prices are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors (65+), and $15 for students with a valid ID. Children under 14 can enter for free. The museum offers free admission every Friday evening from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Is photography allowed inside the museum?

Photography without flash is permitted in most galleries for personal, non-commercial use. However, some exhibitions may have restrictions on photography. It’s always best to check with the museum staff or look for signage regarding photography policies.

Does the museum offer guided tours?

Yes, the Portland Museum of Art offers guided tours led by knowledgeable docents. Tours are available for both permanent collections and temporary exhibitions. Check the museum’s website or inquire at the front desk for tour schedules and availability.

Is the museum wheelchair accessible?

Yes, the Portland Museum of Art is fully wheelchair accessible. The museum provides elevators, ramps, and wheelchair-accessible restrooms. Wheelchairs are also available for loan at the front desk on a first-come, first-served basis.

Does the museum have a café or restaurant?

Yes, the museum features a café called the PMA Café, which offers a selection of light fare, sandwiches, salads, and beverages. The café is open during museum hours and is accessible without museum admission.


Contact Information
Portland Museum of Art
7 Congress Square, Portland, Maine 04101



Picture of Mark Beale - Author Bio

Mark Beale - Author Bio

Mark has an extensive background in the Maine Hospitality Industry, having owned the Ledges By The Bay, a boutique oceanfront hotel property, in Rockport Maine, for 40 years. He sold the property in 2016 but remains well-versed in the Maine Tourism industry and has written a number of Maine travel-related articles for various blogs and publications over the years.

Mark founded the TakeMe2 Travel Guides platform, an online travel guide initiative, designed to promote tourism in Maine, New England and in other key states – by providing in depth, unbiased information to potential tourists and travel consumers. TakeMe2 currently features the website.

Mark is also currently a stakeholder in VONT, a digital marketing agency in Westbrook, Maine, where he leads VONT's search engine optimization (SEO) practice.

Mark is versed in a number of digital information technologies including web design and development, digital video, electronic design and digital imaging technologies as well as internet marketing tactics such as blogs, web properties, and other smart media such as AI chatbots for content, image and video enhancement. One of his primary tasks at VONT is to find the successful application of these new information platforms in marketing and then teach VONT's marketers how to use them to create marketing campaigns more efficiently, creatively and cost effectively.



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