Founded in 1882, the expansion of the Portland Museum of Art is famously known as the design of Maine’s Next Great Landmark, or as imagined by the PMA as a – Landmark for the Future. Owing to the extension and joining of the campus (existing century-year-old buildings), an international competition was announced, welcoming entries from architects throughout the world. Out of the 104 international entries, top four shortlisted entries announced on November 18, 2022, included Adjaye Associates, MVRDV, LEVER Architecture and, Toshiko Mori Architect + Johnson Marklee + Preston Scott Cohen. Among the top entries, American studio practice, Lever Architecture was chosen as the winning entry.
The 140-year-old museum in Maine, United States, founded as the Portland Society of Art by a group of local artists, is one the oldest museums in the country housing American, European and Contemporary Arts. The architects of the museum IM Pei and Partners designed the Portland museum, founded in 1892, which eventually became one of the finest examples of Post-modern architecture. The expansion was announced on the account of increased visitor capacity, along with which the collections also expanded and diversified.
The Portland Museum of Art Campus Unification + Expansion International Design Competition was designed, developed, and led by Dovetail Design Strategists, and Renderings by Darcstudio.
The four selected architect-led design teams were chosen by the museum for their creative and sensitive approach, their distinctive vision, and embodiment of the PMA’s values of courage, equity, service, sustainability, and trust. (Portland Museum of Art, 2022).
The museum has received numerous art gifts over the years, which is essentially how the museum is now filled with works more than 2 times its original capacity. The museum houses art gifts from Barbara Goodbody, Richard Estes, Bruce Brown, David and Eva Bradford, the Berger Collection Educational Trust, and Alex Katz Foundation, expanding the narrative and diversity of the stories, the museum proudly accommodates. (Solomon, 2022). Sadly, only a fraction of the artwork is a part of the museum exhibit, the rest of which is in storage.
“We are at capacity. If museums don’t continue to grow, if you fall back, it can take a generation to recover.”
– Director of Portland Museum of Art, Mark Bessire said in an interview with the Portland Press Herald.
With a total build-up space of 60,000 sq. ft, the new building will have all spaces to function independently and will accommodate a huge gallery, and educational spaces connected to a huge atrium adding up to 300,000 to 500,000 visitors per year. The expansion building, a 6-storey timber structure adorns a huge curved frame, with massive openings at the top.
With the initial anticipation of $45 million for the hard construction, a massive fund of $85 million has been sought by the PMA now. Along with the construction of the new 6-storey building, the existing museum buildings will be renovated to complement the new construction (Solomon and Solomon, 2022). With the goal for project completion by 2026, the museum is planned to be kept open throughout the expansion.
- Solomon, T. (2022). ARTnews: Portland Museum of Art Launches $85 M. Campaign to Double the Size of its Downtown Campus. [online] Portland Museum of Art. Available at: https://www.portlandmuseum.org/magazine/artnews-blueprint
- Solomon, T. and Solomon, T. (2022). Portland Museum of Art Launches $85 M. Campaign to Double the Size of its Downtown Campus. [online] ARTnews.com. Available at: https://www.artnews.com/art-news/news/portland-museum-of-art-campaign-expansion-1234619077/
- Peacock, A. (2023). Lever Architecture designs ‘Maine’s next great landmark’ for art museum expansion. [online] Free Autocad Blocks & Drawings Download Center. Available at: https://www.allcadblocks.com/lever-architecture-designs-maines-next-great-landmark-for-art-museum-expansion/.
- Portland Museum of Art. (2022). The World’s Best Architects and Designers Answer the PMA’s Call To Build A Landmark For The Future. [online] Available at: https://www.portlandmuseum.org/magazine/finalists.
- Portland Museum of Art. (n.d.). International Design Competition. [online] Available at: https://www.portlandmuseum.org/competition.