Portland Art Museum begins work on $110M expansion project

The planned renovations and additions are designed to make the museum more accessible to all visitors.

A rendering of planter boxes, a large courtyard, trees, sculptures, and a glass pavilion sandwiched between brick buildings.

A design rendering of the future Rothko Pavilion West Plaza from Southwest 10th Avenue.

Image by Hennebery Eddy Architects and Vinci Hamp Architects via Portland Art Museum

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After about a decade of planning, the Portland Art Museum (PAM) has started work on a $110 million expansion project that will help guide it — and the entire downtown district — into a future for all to enjoy.

First steps

To pave the way for many planned additions and renovations, the museum is first relocating its main loading dock from its current location facing the South Park Blocks to the south end of the campus along Jefferson Street.

The loading dock has historically been used as a rendezvous point for school tours. It’s also the only place with a ramp for visitors who can’t use the stairs.

When the relocation is completed by the end of this year, trucks will come and go only during off-peak hours — and operations will be limited to museum property — to avoid clogging traffic in the area.

A rendering shows a one-way city street as it passed a brick building with a banner that reads "I am many."

A design rendering of Portland Art Museum’s new loading dock on Southwest Jefferson Street.

Image by Hennebery Eddy Architects and Vinci Hamp Architects via Portland Art Museum.

Future masterpiece

Founded in 1892, PAM is the “oldest art museum in the Pacific Northwest” and has seen many changes over the decades, but its initial pledge to be a place “accessible to all citizens” still stands.

The PAM campus currently spans two buildings connected below ground level by a network of stairs and elevators. Director Brian Ferriso announced the museum’s “Connection Campaign” will better connect these buildings and link them to a new, central glass structure: the Mark Rothko Pavilion.

A rendering shows a large outdoor pavilion with trees and shrubs, bordered by glass and brick buildings.

A view of the Portland Art Museum’s future Rothko Pavilion from the east.

Image by Hennebery Eddy Architects and Vinci Hamp Architects via Portland Art Museum.

In total, the museum will add or renovate 95,000 sqft. Here are some of the other big changes:

  • Renovations to existing spaces to improve navigation and accessibility
  • Add above-ground connections across all four floors
  • New universally accessible entries on the west and east sides
  • New elevators and restrooms
  • Two new outdoor spaces

Groundbreaking is set to begin on the Mark Rothko Pavilion this fall; the entire campaign is slated for completion in 2025. The museum plans to remain open throughout the process.

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