The founders of the Portland Art Museum built the Main Building in 1932 during the Great Depression, knowing that our community would benefit from an art museum to inspire, educate, and connect us across time and place. In the 90 years since, the Museum has grown alongside our community both physically and programmatically. The intervening decades have seen new building additions, renovations, and retrofitting—all in the pursuit of creating an evermore expansive and accessible experience with art.
While curators bring the world to Oregon and Oregon to the world and explore new ways of collecting, exhibiting, and collaborating, we have emerged as a more inclusive museum. Despite our success over the past 130 years, your Museum is not as accessible as it could, or should, be. Our campus spans two buildings that are connected only through an underground link that must be accessed through a network of stairs and aging elevators. The spaces that we occupy don’t yet serve their purpose of providing an accessible and welcoming experience for all visitors, but we have a plan to fix them.
In order for the Portland Art Museum to continue to provide access to the arts and programs for all ages, and to meet the needs of our ever-changing city and state in the next century, our buildings need to evolve. In November of 2023, we are starting construction on a new, central glass pavilion—The Mark Rothko Pavilion.
The Pavilion will be named in honor of renowned abstract artist Mark Rothko (1903–1970), who spent his childhood in Portland after his family immigrated from Latvia. Rothko attended Lincoln High School, took art classes at the Museum, and even had his first exhibition here.
This once-in-a-generation project will also provide extensive renovations to existing spaces within our two Museum buildings that have been inaccessible and difficult to navigate for decades. Once the work is complete, the experience of visiting our Museum will be drastically improved.
Our evolving campus
Ever since the Museum’s Main Building opened in 1932, our campus has grown and expanded to meet the needs of the community.