Portland, Maine
Portland Museum of Art Campus Unification +
Expansion International Design Competition

Images and Video: LEVER Architecture


LEVER Architecture with Simons
Architects and Unknown Studio,
Chris Newell-Akomawt
Educational Initiative, Openbox,
Once-Future Office, Atelier Ten,
and Studio Pacifica

After the growth and diversification of its collection, Maine’s Portland Museum of Art was ready for a dynamic change. Dovetail Design Strategists was engaged to develop and lead an open, international design competition for the museum’s $100 million campus expansion.

With a shared commitment to diversity, equity, accessibility, inclusivity, and sustainability, Dovetail set out to further the museum’s mission of Art for All. Our competition was a call-to-action to architects around the world, challenging them to redefine the purpose of a museum. More than just a new building, Dovetail positioned the museum as a vanguard for open expression; highlighting the monumental impact that museums could have on their communities, we turned the museum’s aspirations into a value proposition and pushed architects to reimagine the museum as a center of belonging that will foster social change.

Architects from all over the globe formed multi-disciplinary teams to bring their visionary ideas to the table; the finalists conferred with museum leadership, presented their work at a sold-out event at the University of Southern Maine, and showcased their submissions for six weeks at a museum exhibition curated by Dovetail.

After much deliberation that included consideration of community feedback, the Portland Museum of Art Jury landed on a winning concept design that is both iconic and inclusive, and a design team that reflects both our client’s aspirations and Dovetail’s future-forward mission to raise the bar for design excellence, diversity, equity, accessibility, inclusivity, and sustainability in architecture.