Over the past year, The Portland Museum of Art has been completely rethinking how we position ourselves, present our collection, and engage our audiences in a rapidly evolving cultural landscape. Heavily influenced by Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics, we've focused on bringing the ideas Beane brought to the A’s to a museum setting. We call it Museum Moneyball, and simply put, we are positioning the PMA to take advantage of the realities of being a regional museum in a smaller state. We may not have the resources of the Whitney Museum of American Art or Museum of Fine Arts, but through strategic planning focused on our strengths, we can compete on a national and international level—just like the A’s did against the Yankees.
Portland is changing. Over the past 15 years the city has seen a marked increase in its national reputation, attracting attention for its award winning food scene, creative economy, and ease of lifestyle. As the city moves forward, so must the PMA, and we are committed to lead the conversation in the arts, not just in Portland, but for the entire region, becoming a quintessential part of the New England experience.
So how do we plan to do it? Through the thing that makes us unlike any place in Northern New England: our collection.
The PMA collection consists of over 18,000 artworks, but over the course of the museum’s 135 year history, only 5% of it has ever been seen in our galleries. We want to change the way the public engages with our collection, so this year we began a multiyear project based on improved access and experiences with the PMA collection, called Your Museum, Reimagined. We’ve built an art study room and new participatory space, hung new shows and installed an exciting new gallery, and published new ways to view the collection outside of the museum. This year we are closing in January and reinstalling the entire museum, resulting in 40% more art on view, and without building any new gallery space. Individually, any one of these projects would be newsworthy—but we’re doing them all at the same time, tackling things you’d expect from leading institutions with huge collections and endowments—but in Portland and at the PMA.
Stay tuned—more is absolutely on the way.