Portland Museum of Art
1-207-775-6148 or 1-800-639-4067
About the Portland Museum of Art
The Portland Museum of Art, founded in 1882, is Maine's largest public art institution. The Museum's three architecturally significant buildings unite three centuries that showcase the history of American art and culture. The Museum's collection of more than 15,000 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, John Marin, Louise Nevelson, and Andrew Wyeth. The Museum has the largest European collection in Maine. The major European movements from Impressionism through Surrealism are represented by the Joan Whitney Payson, Albert Otten, and Scott M. Black collection, which include works by Auguste Rodin, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Edvard Munch, and René Magritte. 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, Abraham Walkowitz, and Jamie Wyeth, and adding masterpieces to the collection by Childe Hassam, Fitz Hugh Lane, and N. C. Wyeth.
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 paintings by Winslow Homer. Recognizing the Museum's physical limitations, he also gave $8 million toward the building of an addition to be designed by Henry Nichols Cobb of I. M. Pei & Partners. Construction began on the Charles Shipman Payson Building in 1981, and within two years the $8.2 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 to the collection. In 1991, the Joan Whitney Payson Collection of 20 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works of art was given to the Museum on permanent loan. 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.
The Portland Museum of Art, located at Seven Congress Square, Portland, ME, is easily reached from Exit 6A, I-295 North or South. Follow signs to the Downtown Arts District. For hours and fees please see the museum's website.
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