PORTLAND, Maine — Say this for the Portland Museum of Art: It's not thinking small.
The museum has revealed the winning design for the wing it wants to build next to its flagship building in Portland’s Congress Square, and it is ambitious.
It's a structure that will, in the word of PMA director Mark Bessire, “proudly announce to everyone who sees it that Maine is defined by arts and culture and that museums must belong to everyone.”
The building, to be constructed on a site on Free Street where the former Maine Children’s Museum stands, will be made of glass, terracotta, and mass timber.
“The curved roofline,” the museum said, “is designed to frame the sun as it rises and sets, in honor of Maine’s Wabanaki communities…and the land they call Wabanakik, or Dawnland.”
The PMA selected this design from a field of four finalists chosen from more than 100 entries. Although the winner was announced with an understandable sense of excitement — this is the museum’s biggest project in more than four decades— this is not the final word on what the new building will look like. As the process moves forward, expect changes.
“[The design] might be a little bit grander than what we actually will do,” Bessire acknowledged, noting that architects hoping to win a commission often propose features that look terrific but may in the end be too expensive or impractical. Even so, he’s eager to see what comes next.
“We’re going to have fun,” he said.