Know Before You Go
The museum is closed on Mondays. Children 17 and under are always free. Admission is free on the first Thursday of every month from 5-8 p.m., and free admission and special family programming is offered several times a year (check calendar).
The Portland Art Museum is the largest art museum in Oregon and one of the oldest in the country. Located in two historic buildings on Portland’s South Park Blocks, the museum is central to the city’s cultural district and houses a large and wide-ranging collection of art.
Campus and History
First organized in 1892, the museums’ first exhibition was a set of magnificent plaster casts of Greek and Roman sculpture, now displayed in the upper hall of the city’s library. In 1932, the museum moved into the primary building, designed by Pietro Belluschi: a gracious contemporary update of the Georgian style, sleek-lined and advanced in its ideas. The museum’s renovation of the Masonic temple to its immediate north added more exhibition and office space to the campus in 2005.
Belluschi’s original design was ahead of its time. It was airy and admitted natural light into the museum’s galleries, especially the court beyond the entryway, and the visitor today experiences that grand space as a sort of surprise, given the museum’s relative scale. More wings were added, first to house the Pacific Northwest College of Art (then known as the Museum Art School and ultimately separated into its own institution) and then a warren of smaller galleries. The old Masonic temple has become the Jubitz Center of Modern and Contemporary Art, though its old, ornate meeting rooms have been retained.
Portland Art Museum Collections
The museum has strong collections of prints and drawings, photography, Asian art, Native American (especially Pacific Coast) art, and Northwest art, and its European and American collections contain some extraordinary individual pieces, especially from the 19th and 20th centuries. The huge prints and drawings collection was built largely by the late Gordon Gilkey and includes Old Masters printmakers (Dürer, Rembrandt) and the most recent examples of the art forms. And under chief curator Bruce Guenther, the museum’s modern art holdings have increased dramatically, in part because of the addition of the collection of the great modernist critic Clement Greenberg, which gives the museum a unique window into the development of advanced art in the mid-20th century.
Native American Art
The Native American collection was built from two primary sources: the Rasmussen Collection of Northwest Coast art, with its fabulous masks and whaling canoes, and the encyclopedic collection of Elizabeth Cole, which brings the exquisite work of Southwest, Plains, Plateau and Woodlands tribes into focus.
Northwest art is a primary attraction, tracking the development of art in Oregon and Washington since the 19th century. The museum’s curators have wisely spread this work throughout the galleries, placing the best work of Northwest abstractionists alongside their more celebrated New York peers, for example, but a gallery specifically dedicated to Northwest art supplies a good introduction to the fine artists who have worked here (C.S. Price, Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, Hilda and Carl Morris, Sally Haley and Michele Russo).
The North Portland art center's offerings range from visual art installations to collaborations with bands like the Shins.
The Portland Art Museum's Center for Contemporary Native Art showcases the work of modern-day Native American artists.
For two weekends every October, Portland Open Studios invites visitors to explore the houses and offices of artists across the city.
The 2019 Siren Nation Festival presents a stunning musical lineup, a night of the best comedians from the Northwest, a visual art show with outstanding Northwest artists, an art and craft sale and free workshops, held throughout November 7-17. Schedule and venues vary daily; some events are free, and others require a cover. Please visit…
During the month of November, Lan Su Chinese Garden will be packed with more than 750 potted chrysanthemums artistically displayed throughout the garden. More than 75 different chrysanthemum varieties will unfurl in all colors, shapes and sizes including: spiders, quills, spoons, regular incurves, irregular incurves, reflexes, semi-doubles, anemones, brush, thistle, exotics and more. Take in…
Portland Japanese Garden presents the art of Noritaka Tatehana in his first-ever North American solo exhibition. Installed in the Pavilion and Tanabe Galleries located within the manicured grounds of the renowned Gardens, Tatehana enchants through his use of traditional symbols of sophistication and beauty with the inclusion of new, never-before-seen artworks created especially for this…
Celebrating the 16th anniversary of showcasing anime and Japanese culture, Kumoricon is ready for its biggest year yet. Gaining its namesake (kumori) from the Japanese word “cloudy,” Kumoricon embodies the best parts of fandom and what it is to live in the Pacific Northwest. Stretching across generations, anime fans have gathered together for an amazing…
Get a head-start on holiday shopping at Handmade NW. Now in its twelfth year, this three-day event rotates artisans from each day, offering shoppers unique items throughout. This year’s market takes place to OHSU’s Center for Developmental Health. The center is committed to finding the root causes of chronic disease and to developing new methods…
The Wild Arts Festival is Pacific Northwest’s premier art show and book fair celebrating the natural world. Held each November by the Portland Audubon, the festival attracts nearly 5,000 visitors each year. New for 2019, the popular festival has moved to Pure Space in Portland’s vibrant Pearl District as the festival celebrates its 39th year….
Brighten your February with glowing sculptures and thousands of twinkling lights at the annual Winter Lights Festival.
Marking the 40th anniversary of the eruption of Mount Saint Helens, this exhibition explores the overwhelming power of nature and the epic cycles of volcanic destruction and regeneration with stunning photographs, paintings and drawings of the mountain from 1845 to the present day. Curated by Dawson Carr, Ph.D., The Janet and Richard Geary Curator of…