As you guys know, I’m a HUGE museum fan. So you know I had to check out the Portland Museum of Art while we were in Maine. They have free admission and extended hours every Friday, so it was the perfect way to spend our afternoon and evening. The museum was easy to access in downtown Portland, close by to lots of restaurants and hotels. Complete with a sculpture garden and cafe, this museum was a hit.
The museum is located at 7 Congress St in Portland, Maine. There is limited on-street parking but we were able to snag a 4-hour handicapped parking spot right by the entrance. If those spots are full, don’t worry, there are lots of parking garages and lots in the area. The sidewalks in the surrounding area were all smooth brick with nice curb cuts at all the intersections we saw.
The entrance to the museum is accessible with a long ramp built into the facade. There were several signs directing you to where the ramp started. The only downside was that the exterior door itself didn’t have a power button. At least not one that we could find! However, the guard stand is right inside the door and they quickly came to assist.
Everything inside the museum was easily accessible. There was a large elevator to the left of the main entrance which takes you to all 3 currently open exhibit floors and the lower level. On the lower level, are the bathrooms which DO have a power button for the doors and one good-sized handicapped stall. We did see signs telling us about other single bathrooms on the main floors, but didn’t see them as we were going around. But, the elevator made it easy to go back to the lower level as we needed it.
The spaces and hallways were all spacious, so it was easy to roll around the space. Several of the rooms had benches to sit on, but not all.
While we were there, they had three temporary exhibits as well as their permanent collection. Within the permanent collection, there were works by Cassat, Degas, Renoir, and quite a few by Winslow Homer. In fact, the museum also owns the studio space that Homer used while creating his Maine coastal landscapes and in non-pandemic times they offer bus tours to visit the property, which otherwise can’t be seen by the public.
The temporary exhibits on display during our visit were:
- Richard Estes: Urban Landscapes (on display until November 28, 2021)
- Walker Evans: American Photographs (on display until December 5, 2021)
- Clifford Ross: Sightlines (on display until January 9, 2022)
Of these, my favorite was Urban Landscapes. Estes is a photorealist painter who also uses screen printing in his works. They were incredible! Each of his urban landscapes had a unique or unexpected perspective, and included elements of looking “through” something, being “inside” or “outside” of a space, and reflections. Estes is considered the premier realist painter of American cityscapes, and I can see why. Each of the pieces on display really captured my attention. The exhibit also included a display of the process that Estes follows when creating his screen-printed works, from his first sketches to the final layers of ink.
Ross, is a multi-media artist, and one of his pieces currently in Portland is called Lightwaves IV. It is a computer-generated video depicting waves on an led wall. This can be found right inside the lobby and is mesmerizing to watch.
The PMA Cafe is located in the lower level of the museum and is a great place to take a break and recharge. Their menu includes lots of yummy treats as well as more substantial and filling items like soups and sandwiches. When we were there they had pork chili and lobster stew. We had just come from lunch when we got to the museum, so when we took a break a few hours later we didn’t need a full meal. But, their sweet treats did not disappoint! I got a really yummy and spooky slice of Halloween chocolate cake and my mom and Gam split a blueberry hand pie, which was big enough for two. Both were really good. We also got drinks, because the cafe features coffee, local sodas, and regional beers and wines too, for the over 21 crowd. So the whole family can be happy! If you go on Friday the cafe is open until 6 pm, otherwise, it’s open until 3 or 4 pm depending on the day. If you’ve been taking too many photos and your phone needs charged, the corner booths of the seating area both had plugs on the wall behind them that would be easy to access.
This museum was a great way to spend several hours in Portland. I love sketching at museums and so I could easily spend a whole week here! Next time I’ll plan to eat lunch there and enjoy more from the cafe. I also missed out on the sculpture garden because it was dark outside by the time I finished the indoor exhibits. Like most museums, they offer films as well, which require a separate ticket, but next time we’re in town I’ll check out the schedule to see what they’re offering.
Anna’s Top 5:
When you’re visiting the Portland Museum of Art, make sure to:
7 Congress St, Portland, ME 04101