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The Portland Museum of Art, founded in 1882, is the largest and oldest public art institution in Maine. Located at Seven Congress Square in downtown Portland, the museum collects and exhibits more than 15,000 objects of fine and decorative arts, dating from 18th century to the present.
The museum showcases collections in its three historic and remarkable buildings. Built in 1801, McLellan House is a three-story, four-square brick mansion that is a preeminent example of Federal architecture. The building was designed by John Kimball, one of the most regarded housewrights of Portland.
The Lorenzo de Medici Sweat Memorial Galleries were opened in 1911 to honor the husband of the benevolent benefactor of the museum, Margaret Jane Mussey Sweat (1823-1908). Lorenzo Sweat was a life-long politician, representing the people of Portland and of Maine.
The building was designed by John Calvin Stevens, a prominent Maine architect, in order to cope with the architecture of McLellan House. Both the house and galleries preserve 19th-century American paintings and decorative arts, and the galleries specialize in 19th-century American art.
One of America’s greatest artists, Winslow Homer, gave his 17 paintings to a Maine native, Charles Shipman Payson. To house the collection, the Payson Building was opened in 1983. Other masterpieces of the state of Maine also are displayed in the 62,500-square-foot facility.
The museum features the works of well-known artists, including Marsden Hartley, Rockwell Kent, and Louise Nevelson. Also, a large collection of European art by Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Pierre-August Renoir, and Pablo Picasso is displayed.
As a vital cultural center of greater Portland and New England, the museum conducts outstanding exhibitions, educational programs, and cultural activities. Family festivals, lectures, art classes, musical concerts, book groups, art camps, and gallery talks form part of the activities. The Museum Cafe pampers the visitor with delicious lunches and tasty treats.