Portland Art Museum

Art and discovery converge at the Portland Art Museum

By Patrick JohnsonThe Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art. Photo courtesy ofthe Portland Art Museum.
For Oregon.com

Sitting in downtown Portland, surrounded by theaters, museums and wonderful 12-block park, the Portland Art Museum is the center of discovery.

From exhibits featuring Egypt to a sculpture from Pablo Picasso, from modern to Pacific Rim, there is something that will catch your eye and imagination.

The museum, the seventh oldest in the United States and oldest on the West Coast, spans two buildings, numerous eras and is in the cultural center of the Rose City.

"I would tell people who are visiting from out of town to plan ahead," says Chad Greenwood, public relations assistant for the Portland Art Museum. "Every day we have something going on here."

During the weekends there are family events, featuring art classes and once every three or four months the museum has a family fun day with music, classes and lectures. Families can drop in for as long as they like from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sundays to create sculptures, collages and prints with local artists. These events are free with the price of admission.

"We have a lot of families take advantage of these events," Greenwood says. "They are a great way to have kids be a part of the art they are seeing. We also try to tie the events into the special exhibits that are on display."

One of the best ways to make sure you see every one of the 40,000 objects in the sprawling 112,000 square-foot museum, is to take one of the daily tours - conducted by museum volunteers, curators and educators. There is much to see and having a guide can help make sure you get to see everything - and half the fun is hearing the back story on the artist and the art.

The museum has 11 areas to explore, broken into era or style of artwork. The Jubitz Center focuses on modern and contemporary art while the Belluschi Building houses special exhibits, the Center for Native American Art, classrooms and an auditorium. An underground hallway, featuring modern art, connects the two buildings. Both buildings have multiple floors of exhibits, so be prepared to climb stairs. There are elevators for those with disabilities or who get tired.

As with all art museums, you can spend as much or as little time as you like in the museum. For a quick walk through, make sure to give yourself at least two hours. For people coming from the East Coast, there are exhibits that are unique to the museum that should be seen, Greenwood says.

"The oldest collecting we have at the museum is our Asian collection with Japanese prints and a number of items from the Pacific Rim," he says. "We also have Clement Greenberg's private collection of art. He was a famous art critic from New York and people from the East Coast can see what he had in his collection."

The museum has a membership of 22,000 households and has more than 350,000 visitors every year. The gift shop, located at the entrance to the museum features books, postcards and other items that tie into the main exhibit.

"The funds generated from the gift shop go back into our educational programs," Greenwood says. "It's a great way to support the museum and get some wonderful gifts at the same time."

Photo courtesy ofthe Portland Art Museum About the Portland Art Museum

Located in the cultural center of downtown Portland, the Portland Art Museum offers endless hours of discovery.

The museum features 40,000 objects in its 112,000 square-foot museum that spans two buildings. Fronted by the park blocks, you can enjoy a wonderful day inside the museum and then take a walk in downtown.

What to bring: Comfortable shoes are a must. You will spend most of your time on your feet looking at exhibits and walking through the sprawling museum.

Tips: The museum doesn't allow photography due to image rights issues, and they also ask that you don't touch the artwork.

Obviously food and drinks are not allowed and they ask that you turn off cell phones. They also would like the public to check all backpacks, briefcases, umbrellas and other large items at the entrance.

Timing: Make sure to give yourself at least two hours for a brisk walk through of the museum - it is very easy to spend the day exploring and examining the exhibits. There are also many special events and lectures at the museum, so before you plan your trip, check their Web site at www.portlandartmuseum.org.

Getting there:
Interstate 5 from the south

(Salem, Albany, Eugene, Medford, etc.)
- Approaching the downtown area, follow signs to I-405. - Once on I-405, continue and exit right on the SALMON ST. exit. Turn right on SW SALMON ST.
- Proceed five blocks and turn right on SW PARK AVE.
- The Museum is two blocks ahead on the right between MAIN and JEFFERSON.

Interstate 84-from the east
(Troutdale, Hood River, The Dalles, Pendleton, etc.)
- Approaching the INTERSTATE 5 INTERCHANGE, keep left and follow the BEAVERTON signs.
- On the Marquam Bridge, follow signs marked I-405.
- After leaving the bridge, exit right on the SALMON ST. exit.
- Turn right on SW SALMON ST.
- Proceed five blocks and turn right on SW PARK AVE.
- The Museum is two blocks ahead on the right between MAIN and JEFFERSON.

Interstate 5-from the north
(Vancouver, Longview, Mt. St. Helens, Seattle, etc.)
- Follow signs marked I-405.
- On the Fremont Bridge, keep left toward CITY CENTER / BEAVERTON.
- Turn right on COUCH ST. / BURNSIDE ST., which leads to 15th AVE.
- Proceed straight ahead and turn left on SW SALMON ST.
- Turn right on SW PARK AVE.
- The Museum is two blocks ahead on the right between MAIN and JEFFERSON.

Story by Patrick Johnson, a free-lance writer based in Canby.