July 25, 2024


Art Shines Through

Design teams unveil visions for Portland Museum of Art expansion — Portland Museum of Art

Design teams unveil visions for Portland Museum of Art expansion — Portland Museum of Art

Three of the museum’s four main buildings are more than a century old. The newest building, Payson, opened in 1983.

The $100 million project, planned to be completed by 2026, would include improvements to existing buildings as well and would add money to the museum’s endowment for future acquisitions and improvements. The capital fundraising campaign is underway and has raised more than $30 million.

PMA Director Mark Bessire said in February that the museum doesn’t have enough space to showcase its growing collection of artwork, or to accommodate an increasing number of visitors.

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

The museum project coincides with an ongoing overhaul of Congress Square that includes a redesign of the intersection and of the park that sits directly across from the museum.

“All four designs are somewhat radically different, but they made a lot of similar moves, too,” Sirefman said. “They are all sustainable and all use Free and Congress streets in different ways to invite people in.”

Adjaye Associates’ design feels the most traditional, a massive rectangular building connected to the Payson Building with a section that wraps around behind the existing building to create a handsome new entrance off High Street.

MVRDV’s concept envisions a vertical design, with each floor offset in some way, leading up to a rooftop area adorned with greenery.

Lever Architecture presented a plan that would create a curved, mostly glass building abutting Free Street whose height matches that of the Payson Building.

The design from Toshiko Mori appears to be the tallest, a glass-front building that rises to a peak high above Congress Square and a covered rooftop area that looks out toward Casco Bay.

Each of the chosen design finalists has relevant experience.

Adjaye Associates recently designed the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and The Studio Museum in Harlem.

Lever Architecture oversaw construction of the School of Art+Design at Portland State University.

MVRDV’s portfolio includes the Depot Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, and the world’s first fully accessible Art Depot and Book Mountain, a massive library and monument to reading in Spijkernisse, Netherlands.

And Toshiko Mori’s team has designed, among others, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art Amir Building in Israel (by Cohen), the Menil Drawing Institute in Houston (by Johnston Marklee) and the Center for Maine Contemporary Art here in Rockland (by Mori).