PAM Spotlight

Meet PAM

Founded in 1892, the Portland Art Museum is the oldest art museum on the West Coast and the seventh oldest in the United States. The mission of the Portland Art Museum is to engage the public with art and film of enduring quality, to facilitate dialogue with diverse audiences, and to collect, preserve, and educate for the enrichment of present and future generations.

Designed by renowned architect Pietro Belluschi, the Portland Art Museum's main building hosts major traveling exhibitions, visiting masterpieces, and exhibitions drawn from the museum's collection of more than 50,000 artworks.

Through gifts and acquisitions, the Museum has developed an encyclopedic collection of works more than 50,000 works of art ranging from ancient to contemporary. The artworks are displayed in 112,000 square feet of galleries housed in the museum’s 1932 main building, designed by renowned architect Pietro Belluschi, and the adjacent Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art located in the Museum’s Mark Building, a six-floor former Masonic Temple.

The Museum maintains an ambitious annual exhibition program, presenting approximately 15 major and minor special exhibitions each year, including last summer’s stunning The Art of the Louvre’s Tuileries Garden (presented with the special collaboration of the Musée du Louvre and the Musée Carnavalet Histoire de Paris) and the glamorous current exhibition, Italian Style: Fashion Since 1945, organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

This summer, the Museum presents another important exhibition from France. Gods and Heroes: Masterpieces from the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris (opening June 13) is a rich overview of masterpieces from the École des Beaux-Arts, the original school of fine arts in Paris and a repository for work by many of Europe’s most renowned artists since the 17th century.

Another visitor from France is of particular interest to our readers: The Museum is currently hosting its first intern from the Institut National du Patrimoine, the department of France’s Ministry of Culture responsible for training and administering all curators and conservators of state institutions. One of the final steps in the training program is a six-week internship at a foreign museum to broaden the trainee’s professional outlook through the discovery of other collections, work methods, and approaches to cultural heritage resources.

Beyond the Museum’s special exhibition spaces, approximately 90 percent of gallery space is dedicated to the permanent collection with gallery rotations in Photography, Graphic arts, European art, Asian art, Native American art, Modern and Contemporary art, Northwest art, and Silver. The encyclopedic collections permit rigorous scholarship and interpretation and aim to engage diverse audiences through their breadth and diversity.

The Roy Lichtenstein sculpture "Brushstrokes" (1996) in front of the Portland Art Museum's Mark Building, which displays the museum's modern and contemporary art collections on six floors.

The Portland Art Museum is led by Executive Director Brian Ferriso, whose vision has centered on presenting great art, promoting transparency and accountability of the organization, and increasing both intellectual and economic accessibility. In 2008, the Museum launched the Art Access Initiative, which has provided free admission to all children 17 and under, eliminated fees for all K-12 school tours, secured endowment support for free family days, offered free adult admission the 4th Friday evening of every month, and established a college pass program that provides unlimited access to the Museum for $15 per year to enrolled college student in our area. These initiatives have greatly broadened educational and economic access.

The Museum serves a membership base of over 19,000 households and over 300,000 visitors. Members and visitors experience a broad range of exhibitions, family programs, lectures, films, and other art-educational activities and programs. The Museum’s Northwest Film Center presents a robust year-round exhibition program of international, classic, experimental, and independent cinema, culminating each winter in the Portland International Film Festival, which this year premiered more than 140 international shorts and feature films to an audience of 38,000.

The Portland Art Museum is energetically defining its role as an art museum in the 21st century: one that at its core seeks engagement and dialogue with diverse audiences around works of art. As a result, the Museum has prioritized close and in-depth attention to objects, open-ended conversation in the galleries, and the idea of multiple perspectives and voices through interpretation and digital resources.

Learn more about the Portland Art Museum.