Portland Art Museum’s Unusable $27 Million?

BY Katrina Kufer / May 8 2017 / 14:14 PM

Controversy ensues on whether the US institution will be able to move forward with its planned but unapproved expansion

Portland Art Museum’s Unusable $27 Million?
Image courtesy Travel Portland
Portland Art Museum

Having raised over $27 million to build its new 2,800-square-metre Rothko Pavilion, it has emerged that the Portland Art Museum has planned the project without legal permission from the city. The glass-walled project would enclose a pedestrian zone and sculpture garden, and has received backlash from bike enthusiasts, neighbouring residents and disability advocates who claim the expansion would be a communal inconvenience. Museum director Brian Ferriso refuted this in a letter to Artnet News, indicating that discussions had been held with and in consideration of the wider community for four years.

Members of the museum board claim they received indications from the city, albeit informally, that the pavilion would be approved, despite a still instated 1968 ordinance that the walkway between the museum’s two buildings would not be tampered with. Now, with the community pushing back, in addition to not having yet received formal city approval, “The fundamental question is whether the inconvenience for those people is vastly outweighed by the benefits of having a much better museum… People can legitimately disagree on that issue,” said the museum’s chief advancement officer, J.S. May in a statement.

Founded in 1892, Portland Art Museum is one of the oldest institutions in the US and features a collection of 42,000 objects spanning ancient artefacts to contemporary creations. The expansion in question was announced in October 2016 and is in partnership with the family of Abstract Expressionist painter Mark Rothko, which outlines a 20-year art loan partnership. The building, to be designed by Chicago-based architecture firm Vinci Hamp Architects, would be a three-story pavilion that will connect the main museum building with a Masonic temple acquired in 1992. It will also provide 914-square-metres of extra space, a third floor sculpture garden, a new education and design lab, and additional space for the museum’s library.

For more information visit portlandartmuseum.org