The entrance hall in our museum is an expansive space with pathways around the periphery that entice exploration. It is a perfectly fitting gem, with a combination of open spaces and intimate galleries. Located here in Portland, Maine, the facility itself meanders along edge of downtown and the adjacent neighborhood that soon overlooks the bluffs of the Western Promenade.
And the museum is for me the perfect size, with each exhibit area to scale, facilitating a personal connection with the artwork on display.
The museum was founded as the Portland Society of Art in 1882, and in 1908 Margaret Jane Sweat bequeathed her three-story mansion, along with a generous fund, to create a gallery in memory of her late husband, Lorenzo De Medici Sweat. L. D. M. Sweat, by the way, was a Maine State Senator from 1861 – 1862; he was then elected to the U.S. House and served from 1963 – 1865.
The mansion, known as the McLellan House, grew in this location, with a major expansion made possible in 1981 by Charles Shipman Payson who provided funding. He also promised 17 of his Winslow Hormer paintings.
I know and love the museum by this collection, and work by the Wyeths – Jamie, Andrew, and N. C. Wyeth. (The Farnsworth Art Museum will be impressive to see, too, with their newly constructed facility, as well as another establishment at the Farnsworth, the Wyeth Center.)
The Portland Maine Museum features work by Mary Lou Lipkin, Thomas Hart Benton, Eliot Porter, Käthe Kollwitz, and Dahlov Ipcar, to name but a few in their collection. And each time I visit, I go the galleries upstairs to see work by Louise Nevelson, Marsden Hartley, and John Marin.
As part of the museum’s European collection, you’ll find some of the canon’s of 19th and 20th century, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, René Magritte, Claude Monet, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, and Auguste Rodin.