Portland Art Museum

Visiting the famous Portland Art Museum is a must-add to your to-do-list when in Portland, Oregon. The museum is the 7th largest museum in the US and the oldest standing museum on the West Coast.

What started as a mid-sized museum in the city, the Art Museum is now an immense collection of arts with an area of 240,000 square feet and over 112,000 square feet of gallery space. There are 42,000 impressive works of art, and at least one traveling exhibition held every year. Its displays include classical sculptures and paintings done by European and American artists. The styles range from impressionist, modern, realist, and mix-media. European artists such as Sisley, Renoir, Monet, and Cezanne stand out from the rest.

Besides the wide selection of arts, it has a fantastic history. The Portland Art Museum was initially established in 1892 by the Portland Art Association through generous funding by Henry W. Corbett. The goal of the museum was to educate and nurture the cultural influence in the city. The museum started with 15,000 paintings portraying American and European arts.

In 1908 it acquired its first-ever original artwork called “Afternoon Sky, Harney Desert” by Childe Hassam, an American artist who was an travelling artist at that time. With generous donations and acquisitions, the museum’s art collection grew steadily. What makes this museum unique is the display of traveling exhibitions which happens annually. Among the first traveling exhibition was the world-renowned Armory Show of the American-European art and Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending the Staircase. People described it as revealing, provocative, and very stimulating. A New York critic even described it as an “explosion in a shingle factory.”

The impressive display of arts at the Portland Art Museum made it a popular destination of many tourists and artists coming from the different corners of the world. Touring around the place typically takes more than an hour. But if you want to savor and make every moment count, a half-day excursion would be ideal. Today, the museum boasts a contemporary façade, which is not just ordinary architecture but a recollection of the past and present. Inside are not only beautiful arts but also an extensive collection of silver objects. The museum’s historical and contemporary collection is found in the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Northwest Art.

In 2016, the museum announced a new plan to connect Belluschi and Mark buildings as a glass-draped structure which will serve as a space for modern exhibitions. There will be public spaces and a passageway that links Tenth and Park Avenues. In March 2019, the Portland Historic Landmark Commission approved the Portland Art Museum’s pavilion and named it after Mark Rothko (1903-1970) who is a famous artist with Portland origin. Today, the museum continues to welcome people from all walks of life who are so eager to see and appreciate its art collection.

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