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“Accessible and affordable for families”

Portland Art Museum
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Portland Segway Tour
Ranked #13 of 442 things to do in Portland
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: One of the oldest art museums on the west coast with an impressive collection of Native American and Asian art, plus a large modern and contemporary wing. Rotating special exhibitions bring the best of the art world to Portland.
Level Contributor
67 reviews
30 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
“Accessible and affordable for families”
Reviewed 27 January 2014

Let me begin by saying how much I love that PAM (Portland Art Museum) offers free admission to kids. I'm an Oregonian by birth who lives in the Boston area now, and I find it shocking how expensive it is to go visit the Museum of Fine Arts with my family in my new "home" city of Boston.

I took a membership at the PAM before a recent month-long visit to my native city. I'm home-schooling my 10 year old son, and we'd decided to focus on art and science during our visit to Grandma's house. We came to PAM once a week between mid November and late December of 2013.

We started off with a visit to see the special Samurai exhibit. My son had already seen it in Boston (at the MFA), but wanted to see it again. Between my membership and his age, it cost us... nothing! He thought they didn't display everything in Portland that he'd seen in Boston, but I suspect this was just a trick of different space and his 4th grade attention span.

What was really great about spending time at PAM is my son's new-found appreciation for modern art. He really enjoys the contemporary pieces at PAM. We visited only the newer building (with the contemporary art) on our first visit, and explored the older works (in the more historic building) thereafter, as well as returning to the contemporary exhibits. My kid has decided he loves 1) sculpture and 2) contemporary art. Thank you Portland Art Museum.

The buildings are slightly tricky, but there's an app for that (seriously! Look up "meridian" on iTunes) and we did just fine with the Museum's paper map on our first visit. You just need to note where the two building connect (mostly underground.) We were very grateful for the cafe after a couple of hours. I wish they had more than pastry and (sad, West Coast) bagels.

Parking isn't great, but even downtown Portland is trivial compared to... anywhere on the East Coast. <sigh> Seriously, we got dropped off most visits to save on parking, but, aside from the cost of meters, it was not hard to get a spot within walking distance of the museum if one was prepared to pay for parking and not planning to stay for an entire working day.

I'm mostly able-bodied (and in my 30's), but I have a bad foot, and it was easy to use the elevator when my foot started to bother me. I found this museum very easy to visit, comfortable, and so welcoming to a family with grade-school kids. I don't have stroller-aged children now, but I could tell this place would be a piece of cake for those who do.

The greatest thing of all about PAM is the collection of docents who seem sincerely interested in sharing art with the public. My son was very taken with the "suspended red piano" object in a photo I've uploaded, and we sat with that piece for about an hour one day. A docent talked to him about it, showed him how the interactive part worked, and discussed the artist (with a 10 year old kid!) We went on to discuss that piece with several other museum visitors. :) Another day, a different docent pointed out a visiting Norman Rockwell piece, talked to him about it, and really treated my child like a human being. That is not something I take for granted in an art museum, and I think it will forever affect how my son feels about art and his place in the art world. That's pretty great.

PAM does have a few pieces by some of the world's most famous artists (Picasso, Monet, Rodin, ...) but nothing to compare with our local museum in Boston. In spite of this, I suspect that my family has gained more art appreciation from the "humble" PAM than we ever will at home, and, for this, I am grateful.

Visited December 2013
Thank Mommywillo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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860 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Korean first
  • Polish first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
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English first
Level Contributor
218 reviews
59 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
“What!! original Monet?”
Reviewed 27 January 2014

Amazing to me that this museum has original works by Monet, Degas, VanGough, Renoir. crazy and reasonably priced too.!

Visited January 2014
Thank UtahMan87
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Teaneck NJ
Level Contributor
170 reviews
43 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 January 2014 via mobile

This is lovely museum with example of a variety of art forms. Its collection is limited, but it has a wonderful sampling of everything from Ansel Adams to Calder, Monet, Picasso, Rauschenberg, Renoir, Rodin and Warhol. Special!

Thank LuvTaTrek
This review is the subjective opinion of an individual traveller and not of TripAdvisor LLC nor of its partners.
Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
122 reviews
41 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 January 2014 via mobile

The samurai exhibit is, unfortunately, a temporary exhibit that ends January 12. It was what drew us to the museum however.

Finding the entrance can be interesting but we finally did. Prices are a bit high for such a small museum, so look for deals.

We spent most of our time looking at the samurai exhibit because I geek out on that kind of thing, but they also have a nice Native American collection, as well as a Chinese art collection.

I would have likely not stopped here if not for the temp exhibit, but it's a nice museum.

Thank Orion G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York
Level Contributor
239 reviews
106 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 85 helpful votes
“A little of this, a little of that”
Reviewed 8 January 2014

Just finding the entry was challenging so it came as no surprise that the inside was a bit wonky. It's organized over 2 buildings so I suggest starting at the top of main building and working your way down to the basement level where you can cross over between the 2. Here you'll find some contemporary and Indian art on 3 and 4, more contemporary art on 2. Special exhibitions were (are?) on 1. In the cross space they had the much hyped and over-priced Francis Bacon triptych when I was there. In the 2nd building is a lot of contemporary art, a minimal room, a controversial room, some painting, some photography, some sculpture. I noted some parents with children finding ways to make it all interesting for all. There's a REALLY slow elevator or a lot of stairs. Lots of half floors. I enjoyed it. Spent some lingering time here and I, as a rule, generally don't linger. More of a drive-by 'keep it moving' museum attendee. Fairly expensive. Student and Old Folk prices exist.

Visited January 2014
Thank stevinazo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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