Portland art museum fundraises for expansion, new building

February 14, 2022 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The Portland Museum of Art launched a campaign Monday to raise $85 million for a project to accommodate a growing collection and increasing numbers of visitors.

The museum will either replace or significantly expand the building where the former Children’s Museum was located, The Portland Press Herald reported. The art museum bought that building in 2019.

As early as 2014, the museum conducted a survey of the cluster of buildings and grounds that it occupies near Congress Square to develop a master plan for expansion that will allow it to host between 300,000 and 500,000 visitors annually.

The museum is in a good financial position, its director Mark Bessire told the newspaper.

“Right now, because of our growth, the real risk is not to build,” he said. “We’re at capacity. If museums don’t continue to grow, if you fall back, it can take a generation to recover.”

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In 2020, its tax filing showed the museum had $73 million in assets and an annual budget around $8 million. The endowment has also grown from $32 million to $46 million in five years, according to the newspaper.

The art museum’s collection includes significant painters from Maine like Winslow Homer and Andrew Wyeth as well as impressionists and contemporary artists like Nan Golden. It shuttered for most of 2020 because of the pandemic, the newspaper reported.

Bessire said there is not yet a timeline for the project but a competition to select an architect will begin after the fundraising campaign launches.