ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Museums, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Portland Art Museum / PAM

I bought this postcard to remind me of the Van Gogh I discovered at the Portland Art Museum


Welcome to Oregon! Well, sort of. In June my husband and I spent twelve days traveling the state and now I’m sharing the experience with you. I’ll tell you about the attractions we visited, the meals we ate and where we stayed. Maybe you’ll decide you want to visit Oregon, too. Today’s focus is the Portland Art Museum.

Confusing Floor Plan

OK, I live in Dallas and I love my museum of art, but I’ll be the first to tell you it’s a little confusing.  I felt a whole lot better about it after visiting PAM.  Like the DMA, at PAM you’ll find there are times you just can’t get to what you are looking at from where you are without going someplace else.  On top of that, the PAM is actually housed in two different buildings, but there is only one entrance.  At the DMA you’ve only got one building, but three entrances, as well as a couple of courtyards you can get turned around in.  In other words I felt right at home navigating under a courtyard to get to PAM’s building number two.

Still a Pleasure

Actually, visiting PAM was a pleasure.  On a Friday evening we strolled a few blocks down SW Ninth Avenue from our hotel to the  museum, enjoying the South Park Blocks along the way.  The South Park Blocks are exaggerated medians between SW Ninth Avenue and SW Park Avenue, providing green space and sculpture in the middle of the city.

The museum is open until eight on Fridays and because we’re members at the Friend level at the DMA, admission didn’t cost a penny.  The rest of you guys will have to pay $15 to get in.  If art is one of your hot points, then make the time to visit the museum.  If it’s not, I’ll let you slide on this one.  It’s a nice museum with a lot to see, but they don’t exactly have the Mona Lisa or her sister.

PAM has a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  Downstairs near the entry was a lot of Oriental art – appropriate in a city where there is a lot of Oriental influences.  On two, in the main building, you’ll find the usual European and American paintings.  My favorite thing on that floor was the English silver – gorgeous.  Then it starts getting weird – architecturally.

The rest of the main building is primarily devoted to Native American art.  Confession, I’m not well-versed on Native American art, so it doesn’t interest me as much as European paintings and English silver, which I thrive on.  Between the odd architectural footprint and the art I don’t appreciate as much as I should, I pretty much skimmed this part of the museum with one exception.  They had a series of paintings of Oregon landscapes by Oregon artists.  That I loved.

Having properly viewed building one, we headed to the basement to get to building two.  In the gallery between the buildings Jeff Koons had tied a vacuum cleaner to a metal frame.  I don’t get him either, but he probably wouldn’t care.

Building two is all about modern and contemporary art.  My favorite thing was the Impressionists.  They really had some good ones, including a Van Gogh I didn’t even know existed.  I’m not exactly an expert on Van Gogh, but I am a big fan, so I don’t usually find Van Goghs I haven’t even heard of.

There was also an exhibit called Five Monets/100 Days.  It was a chance to spend some time with five familiar works

Here’s how the DMA’s Chihuly looked at a wedding I attended there recently!

that I’d seen at different times at different places all over the world.  The museum also has a nice Chihuly, but I really can’t remember whether it was in the Contemporary building or up at the top of building one, with the Northwest artists.  If I were Chihuly, I’d be mad, because which ever building it was in, it wasn’t displayed as fantastically as the DMA’s Chihuly.

We finished off the evening by having dinner at the Governor Hotel.  Lots of history has happened there and they have lovely Arts and Crafts furnishings in their Lewis & Clark themed lobby and restaurant.  Jake’s Grill looked good and we had a nice meal there, but the chef must have had a bunch of onions about to go bad in the kitchen, because there really wasn’t much soup in the French onion soup.

So, go or no to the PAM when you visit Portland and I’d say the same about The Governor.  Next Monday I’ll tell you about the Grand Floral Parade.

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