General Information
Explore. Experience. Discover three centuries of art and architecture at the Portland Museum of Art.



Explore the Museum's extensive collection of fine and decorative arts dating from the 18th century to the present, housed in three architecturally significant buildings. Experience the rich artistic heritage of Maine and the United States through the work of world-class artists including Winslow Homer, Marsden Hartley, Rockwell Kent, Louise Nevelson, and Andrew Wyeth. Learn about the story of American art before 1900, from Gilbert Stuart to Frederic Edwin Church, in the restored Federal-era McLellan House (1801) and Beaux-Arts L. D. M. Sweat Memorial Galleries (1911). See Maine's finest collection of European art by masters such as Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Pablo Picasso. Visit the Museum's changing exhibitions and dynamic educational programs that include family festivals, lectures, art classes, musical performances, and much more.

  • 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
  • 150,000 visitors per year
  • Nearly 12,000 schoolchildren per year
  • More than 17,000 objects of fine and decorative arts in the collection, dating from the 18th-century to the present
  • Approximately 10 changing exhibitions per year

The Museum's collection is housed in three architecturally significant buildings

Mission Statement
The Portland Museum of Art strives to enrich the lives of people through acquisition, preservation, and interpretation of the visual arts and the Museum's architecturally significant buildings.

Vision Statement
The Portland Museum of Art will create outstanding exhibitions and educational programs to inspire our audiences. We embrace our rich past, dynamic present, and vibrant future to be a vital arts center for the city, region, and nation. Leveraging the strength of our collection, scholarship, and geographic location, we will excel in these distinct areas:

  • The ongoing exploration of the creative culture of the state of Maine within the context of American art and culture.
  • The interpretation of European modernism through our collection and programs.
  • The presentation of progressive exhibitions beyond our collection that address local and global issues. 
  • The integration of our unique architectural campus into the fabric of Portland and the state of Maine.   

The Portland Museum of Art strives to engage our audiences in a dialogue about the relevance of art and culture to our lives. Aspiring to facilitate this conversation through exhibitions, programs, and partnerships, we dedicate ourselves to serving and supporting our local and national community. In order to provide a learning environment for our audiences, we commit ourselves to good governance, professional development, and fiscal responsibility.

Overview
The Portland Museum of Art, founded in 1882, is Maine's oldest and largest public art institution. The Museum's architecturally significant buildings unite three centuries that showcase the history of American art and culture. The Museum's collection of more than 17,000 objects includes decorative and fine arts dating from the 18th century to the present. The heart of the Museum's collection is the State of Maine Collection, which features works by artists such as Winslow Homer, Marsden Hartley, Rockwell Kent, John Marin, Louise Nevelson, and Andrew Wyeth. The Museum has the largest European art collection in Maine. The major European movements from Impressionism through Surrealism are represented by the Joan Whitney Payson, Albert Otten, and the Isabelle and Scott Black Collection, which include works by Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, René Magritte, Claude Monet, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, and Auguste Rodin. The Elizabeth B. Noyce Collection, a bequest of 66 paintings and sculptures, has transformed the scope and quality of the Museum's American collection, bringing to the Museum its first paintings by George Bellows, Alfred Thompson Bricher, and Jamie Wyeth, and adding masterpieces to the collection by Childe Hassam, Fitz Henry Lane, and N. C. Wyeth. In addition to exhibitions, the Museum has constantly changing educational programs, family festivals, lectures, art classes, musical concerts, bookgroups, art camps, gallery talks, and much more.



History
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.

Over the next 65 years, as the size and scope of the exhibitions expanded, the limitations of the Museum's galleries, storage, and support areas became apparent. In 1976, Maine native Charles Shipman Payson promised the Museum his collection of 17 works by Winslow Homer. Recognizing the Museum's physical limitations, he also gave funds toward the building of an addition to be designed by Henry N. Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. Construction began on the Charles Shipman Payson Building in 1981, and within two years the $10.5 million facility was opened to the public.

Mr. Payson's gift of the Homer paintings served as a catalyst for the Museum's expansion as well as for significant long-term loans and outright gifts to the Museum. In direct response to the Payson gift, the 1979 gift of the Hamilton Easter Field Art Foundation Collection added more than 50 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper by American modernists to the collection.

In 1991, the Joan Whitney Payson Collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works of art was given to the Museum on permanent loan and selected works were later donated to the Museum. In 1996, Elizabeth B. Noyce, art collector and Maine philanthropist, bequeathed 66 works of American art, which is the most extensive and diverse gift of American art ever presented to the Museum.

In January 2000, the Museum launched a $13.5 million capital campaign to raise funds for the preservation, educational interpretation, and reopening of its two historic structures: the McLellan House (1801) and L. D. M. Sweat Memorial Galleries (1911). Completed in October 2002, the preservation project reunited these two buildings with the Payson building and returned the McLellan House to its original Neoclassical elegance and the L. D. M. Sweat Memorial Galleries to their original Beaux-Arts splendor. The L. D. M. Sweat Memorial Galleries showcase the Museum's outstanding collection of 19th-century American art.

The Museum purchased the Winslow Homer Studio in Prouts Neck, Maine, in January 2006. The Studio is where the great American artist Winslow Homer (1836-1910) lived and painted many of his masterpieces from 1883 until his death. The Museum is currently engaged in a major capital campaign to raise $10.5 million for the acquisition, preservation, and endowment of the Studio. A National Historic Landmark, the restored Winslow Homer Studio will be used to celebrate the artist's life, to encourage scholarship, and to educate audiences about the artistic heritage of Winslow Homer and Maine. The Studio and the surrounding grounds are closed to the public while construction and restoration projects take place. The Museum plans to open the Studio in September 2012.

Recently, the Museum purchased two adjacent properties on Spring Street. In 2007, the Museum purchased 87 Spring Street to provide space for long-range expansion. In February 2008, the Charles Quincy Clapp House (1832), at 97 Spring Street, reverted back to the Museum from the Maine College of Art. Located next to the McLellan House, the Charles Q. Clapp House was built in 1832 by Portland businessman Charles Q. Clapp as a private residence. Cited as one of the America's finest examples of Greek Revival architecture, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Museum plans to restore this building to its original elegance and complete the Museum's campus.

Currently the Museum is visited by 150,000 visitors a year, approximately 10,000 of whom are school children. Museum membership is at an all-time high of 8,000 members and continues to grow. Now and into the future, the Museum is committed to serving as a dynamic center for the visual arts and strives to be an essential resource for the people of Maine and New England.