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|Hayley Matthews • 12/13/16|
The Short Version: Inspiring conversation, community, and cultural appreciation, the Portland Museum of Art (PMA) is a superb locale for a date. Since 1882, the museum has offered visitors, young and old, a romantic backdrop to come together and appreciate art. Maine residents often tour these halls to find a quiet respite from their daily hustle and bustle. The Portland Museum of Art attracts over 140,000 visitors a year in a space dedicated to shared interests and admiration. The institution’s engaging events and discounted days are perfect for daters looking for an inexpensive way to have fun with someone special. During your visit, you can connect with your date and start a deep conversation in the cultural hub of Portland, Maine.
In the ’70s, there weren’t quite so many options for singles looking to socialize. Internet dating was still decades away, so the meetings between people happened the old-fashioned way — in person.
A single woman, for example, would become active in a cause she felt passionately about and mingle at events with eligible bachelors who shared her interests. One such meeting occurred over three decades ago at the Portland Museum of Art in Maine between a museum volunteer and a board member at an auction. The two felt passionately about art and came together over their shared interests.
Their relationship with the museum grew (she eventually became Board President after he left the board) as did their romantic relationship. They were married the same year the PMA’s Payson building opened and have remained committed, to each other and the museum, for more than 35 years.
A museum may seem like a serious and studious place, but it does, on occasion, spark a lasting connection between two people. The Portland Museum of Art is a romantic spot to take a date and learn about one another’s views and personality traits by discussing artwork.
More than 18,000 objects in the PMA’s art collection (dating from the 18th century to the present day) provide visitors with plenty of thought-provoking conversation starters. From private viewings to group activities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy here. The Portland Museum of Art, founded in 1882, holds the distinction of being Maine’s largest and oldest public art institution. The space cultivates a reflective escape for over 140,000 visitors a year.
Currently, the staff is redesigning the layout of the museum to bring a fresh perspective to the art collection. The museum’s new look, called Your Museum Reimagined, is set to be unveiled in early February 2017, just in time for Valentine’s Day! “For the celebration on the third, we’ll have food trucks, hot cocoa stands, and entertainment all evening,” said Graeme Kennedy, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the PMA. “We want people to rediscover why they love the museum.”
When planning a date, couples in Maine can check out the PMA’s calendar to find engaging and artsy ideas for a low price. From the moment you enter the museum, you’re in for a unique experience, made all the more meaningful when you share it with someone special.
“First and foremost, our mission is to share the transformative power of art,” Graeme told us. “Part of that is encouraging people to fall in love with art.”
The Portland Museum of Art is a place for dialogue, for reverie, and for admiration — which is to say, it’s an ideal place to get to know someone. You don’t need to know anything about art to enjoy the experience (though prepared daters might find it handy to come with a few fun facts in their pocket). The museum bridges the distance between people through mutual wonder and understanding.
“It’s a place for connection,” Graeme said. “Art breaks down the barriers between people and creates an easy entry point to important topics. You can learn a lot about yourself — and someone else — by looking at art.”
In the intimate quiet of a museum, conversation flows easily between thoughtful individuals. The beauty of the building itself, with its hidden nooks and peaceful atmosphere, fosters romantic moments between two people just as much as the artwork does.
“Art spurs discussion, shared interests, and coming together over our shared humanity,” Graeme commented. “Just by discussing art, you can find out about someone’s beliefs, views, and sense of humor. There’s all sorts of things you can glean from how they interact with the artwork.”
After you’ve wandered the galleries to your heart’s content, you can sit in the museum’s cafe and talk over what you experienced over coffee or a bite to eat, ending your date on a sweet note.
For singles and couples, the Portland Museum of Art’s events calendar offers plenty of date ideas. Talks, tours, and PMA films offer a guided experience for visitors looking to expand their horizons. The film programs are particularly excellent venues for a date with wine and beer available while you watch a foreign or independent film.
Daters can also schedule an appointment at the Osher Art Study Room for a more intimate experience with a significant other. You can pick specific works of art out online, and the museum will bring you and your date to the exclusive space to reflect on those works. Though it requires two weeks advance reservations, it’s free to the public and can provide a really special date.
“We believe in the power of art to bring people together,” Graeme told us. “Art has the ability to comfortably transcend social lines by covering everything from lighthearted fare to really serious topics.”
The Portland Museum of Art isn’t content merely having people passively view artwork. They want you to get involved and creative by making your own work of art. The museum’s participatory workshops challenge visitors to explore what their imaginations and artistic talents can create from a prompt like: turn a coffee-stained napkin into art. The staff then displays these creations with pride.
“Our exhibitions create conversations about all sorts of issues,” he said, “so, if you’re looking for conversation starters, there’s probably no better place to go than a museum. It’s an easy way to break the ice.”
If you’re looking for a low-cost dating option, the Portland Museum of Art has a great deal for you. Free Fridays offer visitors a special discount from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. every — you guessed it — Friday. On these evenings it’s free to pop into the museum and spend a couple hours enjoying the artwork with someone by your side.
The Portland Museum of Art hosts special members-only events to rally young art lovers (ages 21 to 45) together. For an annual fee, art lovers can join the Contemporaries and get exclusive member benefits, like attending the PMA’s seasonal parties hosted all year round. These social shindigs are definitely an appropriate place to bring a date or make a love connection with someone new. The Spring Bash is scheduled for February 16 2017, just after Valentine’s Day, so it’s a fantastic opportunity to mingle and connect with local movers and shakers.
According to Graeme, a lot of singles join the Contemporaries and come to PMA members events because they’re looking to meet new people. “You can easily find someone who loves art and is actively engaged in the community,” he said.
Whether you’re looking to meet new people or share in a singular experience with a loved one, the PMA brings people together on common ground. More than 8,000 PMA members use their shared passion as a jumping-off point for bonding with artsy people.
The museum staff dismisses the notion that art is snooty and art lovers are elitist. “Art has connections to all life,” Graeme said. “You don’t have to know a lot about art to love the museum. You can love anything for any reason you want, and that’s the right reason.”
The Portland Museum of Art embraces cultural awakening and incites meaningful conversations about thousands of works of art. On your visit, you’ll find a welcoming community of art lovers full of appreciation and introspection. If you want to create a cherished memory with your date, come to the museum for a tour or a special event. You wouldn’t be the first person to find a lifelong love among the works of art.
By connecting people through common passions and shared humanity, a museum can inspire deep bonds between daters. “It’s a pretty romantic space,” Graeme said. “The Portland Museum of Art is definitely a place to fall in love or get to know someone better by having conversation.” Since 1882, the PMA has housed many eye-opening experiences for visitors of all ages, backgrounds, and belief systems.
“Whether you’re just looking for a fun time or a more serious and lasting relationship, there’s probably no better way to get to know someone quickly than to talk about art,” he said, “because art really speaks to their soul.”