The Portland Art Museum (PAM) is an art museum in downtown Portland, Oregon, United States. The Portland Art Museum has 240,000 square feet (22,000 m2), with more than 112,000 square feet (10,400 m2) of gallery space. The museum’s permanent collection has over 42,000 works of art. PAM features a center for Native American art, a center for Northwest art, a center for modern and contemporary art, permanent exhibitions of Asian art, and an outdoor public sculpture garden. The Northwest Film Center is also a component of Portland Art Museum.

Portland Art Museum
The Portland Art Museum in 2019
Location1219 SW Park Avenue
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
Coordinates45°30′58″N 122°41′01″W / 45.5162°N 122.6835°W / 45.5162; -122.6835
TypeArt museum
AccreditationAmerican Alliance of Museums
Visitors445,000 (2002)[1]
DirectorBrian J. Ferriso
Portland Art Museum
Portland Historic Landmark[3]
Area1 acre (0.40 ha)
ArchitectPietro Belluschi
Architectural styleModernist
NRHP reference No.74001710[2]
Added to NRHPDecember 31, 1974

The museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, with accreditation through 2024.[4][5]



Incorporated as the Portland Art Association, in 1892,[6] seven business and cultural leaders in the city formed an association towards the development of an art museum for the city of Portland, then approaching 50,000 residents. Henry Corbett donated $10,000 to the association that funded the museum's first collection (the Corbett Collection), which consisted of one hundred plaster casts of Greek and Roman sculptures. The individual pieces of the collection were selected by Winslow B. Ayer and his wife during a trip to Europe. Curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts advised the Ayers prior to the trip on what pieces to select. The collection was originally displayed at the Multnomah County Library located at Southwest Seventh and Stark streets in downtown Portland.

Early history


By the time of the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition held in Portland in 1905, the Portland Art Association had outgrown its location in the public library and had moved into its own building at SW 5th and Taylor. The first exhibition in the new building featured watercolors and paintings that had come to Portland as part of the 1905 Exposition. Curator Henrietta H. Failing (the niece of founder Henry Failing) organized the exhibition with New England artist Frank DuMond.

In 1908, the museum acquired its first original piece of art, Afternoon Sky, Harney Desert by American impressionist painter Childe Hassam, who frequented Malheur and Harney counties in Eastern Oregon with his friend, C.E.S. Wood.

Anna Belle Crocker succeeded Henrietta Failing as curator in 1909, where she remained until her retirement in 1936. Crocker was an important early figure on the association and was the first head of the Museum Art School,( opened in 1909 and now the Pacific Northwest College of Art).

In late 1913, the museum hosted one of its most important early exhibitions. The exhibition featured artwork that had been on display earlier that year at the famous 1913 New York Armory Show, which introduced American audiences to modern art. The exhibition included works by Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Matisse, Manet, Renoir, and the controversial Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 by Marcel Duchamp.

The museum continued to grow during the years following World War I. In the 1920s, the museum hosted two memorable exhibitions organized by Sally Lewis, the daughter of a prominent Portland family. Lewis had befriended many well-known artists on trips to New York and Europe. In 1923, Lewis organized an exhibition at the museum that included 44 paintings by Picasso, Matisse, André Derain and American modernists, such as Maurice Prendergast, Charles Burchfield, and Max Weber. She was also one of 22 patrons who purchased Derain's Tree for the museum's permanent collection. The success of her first exhibition led to her second, more daring endeavor a year later that juxtaposed paintings, drawings, and sculptures from Europe with African masks. Among the sculptures was Brâncuși's A Muse, which Lewis owned and donated to the museum in 1959.


A staircase inside the museum

The museum's final location opened to the public on November 18, 1932, at the corner of SW Park Avenue and Jefferson Street. The building was designed by architect Pietro Belluschi. It is situated along downtown Portland's South Park Blocks and remains a landmark in the city's Cultural District. It was constructed with a lead gift of $100,000 from Winslow B. Ayer, the same patron who selected the museum's collection of plaster casts 40 years earlier. For this reason, the original portion of today's larger main building is referred to as the Ayer Wing.[citation needed] Belluschi's design was modernist, with an unornamented exterior that reflected Belluschi's belief that the design of the building should emphasize the artwork to be exhibited inside of it rather than emphasize the structure itself.[7]

In April 1938, the museum was registered as a tax exempt nonprofit organization.[8]

That same year, construction began on a new wing expansion project. The Hirsch Wing, also designed by Belluschi, was funded largely through the bequest of Ella Hirsch in honor of her parents, Solomon and Josephine Hirsch. The new wing opened on September 15, 1939, and doubled the museum's gallery space.[9]

Post war


In 1942, the Portland Art Museum celebrated a subdued 50th Anniversary due to World War II. But the following year in 1943, staff completed the museum's first full inventory, which counted a permanent collection of 3,300 objects and 750 works on long-term loan.

The next decade was distinguished by a series of record-setting exhibitions. In 1956, nearly 55,000 visitors came to the museum during the six-week run of an exhibition featuring paintings from the collection of Walter Chrysler. The exhibition was organized by the Portland Art Museum and toured nine other cities. More than 80,000 people visited for a Vincent van Gogh exhibition in 1959, the proceeds from which were used to purchase a 1915 Water Lilies (catalog #1795) by Claude Monet. The 1950s also witnessed the creation of the museum's Docent Council in 1955, which created a core group of volunteers who continue to serve the museum to this day.

In the 1960s, the museum underwent another major renovation to build the Hoffman Memorial Wing, named for L. Hawley Hoffman (1884-1959; son of Portland-based artist and arts patron Julia Christiansen Hoffman), who served as president of the museum twice. Funded by the museum's first capital campaign, the new wing began construction in November 1968 and was finished in September 1970. Pietro Belluschi served as the architect again, and the project allowed him to realize a complete vision for the museum that he had conceived nearly 40 years earlier. The expansion created classroom and studio space for the Museum Art School, a sculpture mall, a new vault for the collections, and an auditorium.

Over the course of the next several decades, the collections and programs of the Portland Art Museum continued to grow and evolve. In 1978, Vivian and Gordon Gilkey began their association with the museum, bringing with them an extraordinary collection of thousands of works on paper that would eventually lead to the opening of the Vivian and Gordon Gilkey Center for Graphic Arts in 1993. Also in 1978, the Northwest Film Center was incorporated into the museum, offering a wide range of film festivals, classes, and outreach programs focused on the moving image arts.

Modern era

PAM's Mark Building

The Portland Art Museum purchased the neighboring Masonic Temple in 1992.[10] A capital campaign to finance a refurbishment of the Main Building began in 1994. The project improved the galleries, reinstalled the permanent collection, and equipped the building with a climate control system. After the refurbishment was completed, PAM hosted Imperial Tombs of China, which brought 430,000 visitors to the museum.[citation needed]

PAM renovated the former Masonic temple, renamed it the Mark Building, and opened it to the public in 1995.[11] The renovated building holds the six-floor, 28,000-square-foot (2,600 m2) Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art. The Mark Building also houses the 33,000 volume Crumpacker Family Library, meeting spaces, ballrooms, and administrative offices.

A major renovation of the Hoffman Wing was completed in 2000 and added more than 50,000 square feet (5,000 m2) of new gallery space to the museum which included the Grand Ronde Center for Native American Art and the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Northwest Art. The renovation was funded by a $45 million capital campaign.

In 2001, PAM purchased the private collection of New York art critic Clement Greenberg consisting of 159 works by artists such as Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, and Anthony Caro.

In 2007, the museum acquired Vincent van Gogh's 1884 painting The Ox-Cart by donation.[12]

In December 2013, Francis Bacon's Three Studies of Lucian Freud went on display for three months after it was sold at auction.[13]

In 2016, the Portland Art Museum announced that it would undertake a glass-walled expansion to unite its two existing free-standing buildings. The Rothko Pavilion addition, was the result of a partnership with Mark Rothko’s children, Christopher Rothko and Kate Rothko Prizel, and an agreement they will provide loans of major Rothko paintings from their private collection over the course of the next two decades.[14]

Recent acquisitions include photographs, a few negatives, and color pencil sketches by the Los Angeles photographer Ray McSavaney.[citation needed]

The Portland Art Museum has a collection consisting of approximately 40,000 objects. In 2006, Brian Ferriso was appointed the museum's director.[citation needed]


Vincent van Gogh's The Ox Cart

The museum has a collection of over 40,000 objects and works of art. Among them:

Oregon Biennial


The Oregon Biennial was a biennial art exhibition held every two years at PAM.[18] In 2007, it was replaced by the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards or CNAA, which will be held every two years and covers artists in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana selected from a shortlist of artists. One artist from the CNAA show will be awarded the $10,000 Arlene Schnitzer Prize.[19]

Crumpacker Family Library


The Crumpacker Family Library, founded with the museum in 1892, contains over 40,000 catalogued items.[20]

See also



  1. ^ Travel Oregon Archived April 13, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "National Register Information System – (#74001710)". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  3. ^ Portland Historic Landmarks Commission (July 2010), Historic Landmarks -- Portland, Oregon (XLS), retrieved November 13, 2013.
  4. ^ "List of Accredited Museums". Archived 2013-01-17 at the Wayback Machine American Alliance of Museums. Retrieved December 13, 2007.
  5. ^ Row, D.K. (April 10, 2011). "Portland Art Museum renews accreditation from American Association of Museums". The Oregonian. Portland.
  6. ^ "Portland Art Association". Oregon Encyclopedia. Retrieved May 6, 2016.
  7. ^ Eastman, Janet (20 August 2023). "Modern architect Pietro Belluschi asked Frank Lloyd Wright for help 92 years ago. Here's how that still benefits Portland". The Oregonian/Oregon Live. Retrieved 29 August 2023.
  8. ^ "Portland Art Museum - Nonprofit Explorer". ProPublica. 2013-05-09. Retrieved 2023-02-17.
  9. ^ "About the Museum". Portland Art Museum. Archived from the original on 2011-12-23. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
  10. ^ Nicholas, Jonathan (1992-01-30). "The Latest Buzz on Our Big Sister City". The Oregonian. Portland. p. D1.
  11. ^ Perry, Douglas (2017-02-28). "Never-built landmarks that haunt Portland, other cities". The Oregonian. Portland. Retrieved 2020-08-11.
  12. ^ Row, D.K. Portland Art Museum gets NW's first van Gogh. Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine The Oregonian, October 15, 2007.
  13. ^ Stabler, David (January 8, 2014). "Art of darkness: Francis Bacon's record-breaking triptych at Portland Art Museum finds beauty in bleakness". The Oregonian. Portland. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
  14. ^ Kennedy, Randy (October 8, 2016). "Mark Rothko, Son of Oregon, to Be Honored With Museum Wing". The New York Times.
  15. ^ "Online Collections". Portland Art Museum.
  16. ^ "FamilyTreePiles". Portland Art Museum.
  17. ^ "Nude with Beads (Frida Kahlo)". Portland Art Museum. Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  18. ^ Portland Art Museum Special Exhibitions: 2006 Biennial Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ Goodbye Oregon Biennial, Hello CNAA
  20. ^ "Crumpacker Family Library". Portland Art Museum. Archived from the original on 2019-07-29. Retrieved 2018-02-21.