New and Enhanced Spaces for People of All Ages and Abilities

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For the past decade, the Portland Art museum has been planning to transform our location on the downtown park blocks to create a truly world-class arts education institution. In all, we are adding or renovating 95,000 square feet. The project affirms our desire to connect with each other in spaces designed to support ease and access to art experiences that broaden our perspectives. It also affirms that Downtown Portland and our cultural district on the South Park Blocks are vital to the strength of our city. Reflecting shared community values of transparency, accessibility, and inclusivity, the project will be a cornerstone in our city’s revitalization.

The Rothko Pavilion. With the new Mark Rothko Pavilion, we have the opportunity to provide not only an elegant and fluid connection between the two buildings, but one that invites all people, regardless of their individual capabilities, into the campus to easily access and enjoy the entire Museum’s collection, exhibitions, and programmatic spaces across all four floors. 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.

“…the Rothko Pavilion may come to feel like its own kind of institution: a place you want to spend time in or pass through even if you haven’t reserved the afternoon for looking at art. After all, what better tribute is there to Mark Rothko than creating a place to stop and linger, and to stare not just at paintings but out at the city and the sky?”

Campus renderingPortland’s Newest Living Room. Located through one of two new central and accessible entryways, the Swigert Warren Community Commons on the Pavilion’s main floor will serve as a free public space, featuring ample seating and direct access to our café and store. This airy new space will invite the city of Portland in to take a break and recharge.

Campus renderingA Window to the Museum. The Community Passageway will bridge our campus from east to west, offering passersby an experience with art and a glimpse of what’s inside.

Campus renderingFresh Perspectives on Art. The new Grand Pavilion Gallery, showcasing exciting rotations of art, such as the Museum’s extensive collection of 20th century sculpture, will become an epicenter of activity—a place for interaction and performance, to access the new outdoor Jubitz Terrace, or simply for basking in the light streaming through the gallery’s wall of west-facing windows.

Campus renderingRestful Spaces. The Overlook Gallery on the third floor will offer a welcome place to pause and rest. Guests moving between the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Northwest Art and the Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art can sit and recharge while enjoying a view of the Park Blocks or down into the Grand Gallery below.

Campus renderingNew Art Experiences. Crossing over the Ritz Community Passageway to the Crumpacker Center for New Art, visitors will find an expansive new special exhibition space. The Center will offer the Museum a new dedicated space for dynamic exhibitions of cutting-edge art, while the Library will be relocated to the first floor of the Mark Building.

Campus renderingA Destination for Film & New Media. We will expand ways of seeing through film, television, virtual and augmented reality, and audio, welcoming audiences to engage with works as both art and entertainment. On the lower level, the Blair Family Commons, featuring new art viewing spaces and concessions along with the Whitsell Auditorium, will become the new destination for PAM CUT // Center for an Untold Tomorrow, and more galleries throughout the Museum will showcase media arts and storytelling.

Campus renderingOutdoor Plazas, Terraces, and Expanded Store and Café. New plazas on both the West and East sides offer central, accessible, and beautiful entry points to the Museum. The expansive West Plaza will connect with the Pavilion, store, and café. The Jubitz Terrace on the second floor will offer elevated views of the South Park Blocks to the east, and the west-facing terrace on the fourth floor of the Pavilion overlooks the surrounding neighborhood on Southwest 10th Avenue. Additionally, the Museum café and store will be larger, offering a new modern shopping experience and a flexible kitchen and bar area.

Campus renderingAccessibility. At its core, the Rothko Pavilion project does more than connect two buildings. At every stage, planners have worked to make the Museum as accessible and inclusive as possible, while also meeting the challenge of merging two aging and historic buildings. The architects integrated Universal Design principles to ensure that all people, regardless of their individual capabilities, will enjoy ease of access throughout the Museum’s art exhibitions and programmatic spaces. While complicated and costly, this resulted in a wonderful design that centers the community and engages passersby with art and programs inside the Museum. Improvements to accessibility range from small gestures such as widening sidewalks, push button doors and easy-to-find ramps, to massive investments like gender-neutral bathrooms on all floors and an open-air passageway that provides improved access to public transportation, including the popular Streetcar and the Jefferson Street bus transit corridor.