The Portland Museum of Art features vast artistic collections through the centuries. — Photo courtesy of Mark PechenikLooking to infuse your night life with some cultural adventure? Then be sure to take in free Fridays at the Portland Museum of Art (PMA). From 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Friday evenings, this world-class museum features free admission to visitors. It’s a great way to ramp up your weekend activities and, at the same time, explore all that this legendary Portland institution has to offer.
Those who visit the PMA on Friday evenings will be treated to a very different vibe, one that is in stark contrast to daily admissions. The atmosphere just seems more relaxed, less busy. The museums many exhibits seem to take on an almost other worldly reverence. Visitors tend to linger longer on the vast collections as their viewing takes on a heightened personal significance.
This is especially true for couples looking for a different take on the traditional “date night.” The pressure to engage in witty banter is set aside for a time as men and women simply share the artistic solitude that envelops them. Afterwards, couples can often be seen discussing their impressions over a delicious latte or cappuccino in the museum’s tastefully appointed downstairs restaurant.
Just what does the museum offer in terms of Friday night artistic enjoyment? Consider the PMA’s extensive holdings of Maine-based artists. The Pine Tree State still enjoys a distinctive reputation as inspiration for painters, sculptors and other creative types. Places like Ogunquit, Kennebunk, York, Bar Harbor – all have served as subjects for scenic landscapes of Maine’s rugged shorelines. The PMA features many of these paintings by such famous artists as Rockwell Kent, Winslow Homer, and Andrew Wyeth.
Beyond the local, the museum has an astounding collection of more than 17,000 fine and decorative art works dating from the 1700s to the present day. Here you can witness the stark realism of folk art to the abstract expressions of Georgia O’Keefe or Pablo Picasso. The major European masters can also be found here with Mary Cassatt, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and others all well represented within the museum’s display space.Sefer Hechaoloth at the Portland Museum of Art. — Photo courtesy of Mark Pechenik
Particularly compelling to me is the permanent “Sefer Hechaoloth” installation, a sculptural representation of the Holocaust by German artist Anselm Kiefer, which always causes me to engage in moments of spiritual contemplation. This massive work features ledges containing burned books that seem to rise up to heaven – a personal protest against the anti-intellectualism of Hitler’s infamous Nazi regime.
Other aspects of the museum’s offerings include sculptures, prints, photography, furniture, ceramics and glass works that are a treat for the senses during any Friday evening visit. So, the next time you’re looking for something different to do on a Friday night, be sure to make your way to the Portland Museum of Art for artistic inspiration.