2021 Annual Report – Portland Museum of Art

Annual report 2020-2021

Stay Connected: Year in Review

Pandemic life continued to influence the Museum and Northwest Film Center’s fiscal year ending June 30, 2021. Much effort, enthusiasm and commitment throughout 2020-2021 resulted in the Museum and at the Northwest Film Center to stay connected with the community and with art. Members have played a vital role in supporting the many ways the Museum and the Northwest Film Center have continued to be a source of art, inspiration, and connection throughout this pandemic time.

Exhibitions and programs

In the face of growing uncertainty at the start of the pandemic, the Museum worked with exhibition partners and lenders around the world to extend or postpone more than 15 exhibitions ranging from single-artist projects to blockbuster exhibitions. When the restrictions were finally lifted, visitors were delighted to discover Ansel Adams in our time. The familiarity of his work coupled with different perspectives was just what was needed to reconnect.

The museum and Northwest Film Center also took advantage of Portland’s generally mild weather to offer outdoor experiences, including projection mapping exhibits in partnership with the Mobile Projection Unit, and reinvigorate the Drive-In format. presenting the Cinema Unbound Awards outdoors, as well as more traditional offerings. In partnership with The Numberz FM and the City of Portland, the Park Block in front of the museum has been activated as a neighborhood gathering place, offering music, art and community.

In all:

  • ten exhibitions
  • 60 feature films and 40 short films in streaming
  • 52 feature films and 5 outdoor short films
  • 30 Northwest Film Center Virtual Programs and Classes
  • 41 number of virtual programs
  • 8 number of in-person programs and pop-ups

Partnerships, youth and educators

Community partnerships, as well as youth and educator programs have continued to thrive, despite and because of the challenges presented by the pandemic and ongoing uncertainty. As noted previously in this magazine and on other channels, The Numberz FM have an even greater impact on this institution and in our community than when they first took up residence, broadcasting from the galleries. After a summer of programming and activating the Madison St. Plaza pop-up, the Numberz FM team launched the AUX/MUTE gallery on the fourth floor of the main building. The gallery is a business designed to reduce the barrier for BIPOC practicing artists to be represented within an art institution.

As students return to the classroom and resources are still limited for many schools, the Museum continues to partner and collaborate with educators to ensure access to art and exhibits remains possible.

Youth and Educator Program Highlights

  • The poster project—A set of posters created each year featuring works from the permanent collections that are freely available to educators in Oregon and Washington. Funded by the PGE Foundation.
  • Non-conference of educators: memory and public space—an exploration of questions about how we use public space to remember.
  • Look at me. I am. HEAR: a creative activation of the voices of young people of color— a collaboration with the City of Portland’s Supporting Community Healing with Art initiative and other partners who transformed the Madison Street Pop-up Plaza into a vibrant creative space powered by and for young people. Featured partners included: The Numberz.fm, I AM MORE, IPRC and NAYA Many Nations Academy.
  • Postcards to Earth: 2021 HeART of Portland PPS Exhibit and Showcase—The museum celebrated the work of Portland public school students and teachers with an Ansel Adams-inspired installation in the display cases of the museum’s gift shop.

Finances and fundraising

In the year ended June 30, 2021, the Museum’s finances were again dominated by the global pandemic, for the second consecutive year. During the last state-mandated shutdown, the museum was successful in securing a second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding that again paid for staff who were out of work for two more months. Once the restrictions were lifted, attendance increased steadily and staff were brought back to work.

Of the three years that have been impacted by COVID-19, the Museum will have been closed for nine of those 36 months and will operate with significant capacity restrictions for another 12 months. Leaving only 15 months out of three years during which the Museum and the Northwest Film Center could operate normally. The financial impact of this is calculated as a loss of earned income of approximately $9 million over the three years. Government relief programs will account for $7.7 million of this amount, leaving a shortfall of $1.3 million to be covered by reserves.

Thanks to this support and the focus on expense management over the past 19 months, the Museum ended the year with a positive cash position.

Fundraising Highlights

Supporters for the Museum and the Northwest Film Center have intensified significantly over the past 24 months. Highlights of this support include:

  • Sixty-six percent of all gifts were given without restrictionwhich has made it possible to adapt and offer programs and exhibitions in new ways while supporting the artistic ecosystem, with initiatives such as the Artists’ Fund.
  • Donors and members gave at all levelsand the previous fiscal year, more donations were received from more donors from more parts of the community than ever before.
  • The Museum and the northwest film center received significant relief funding last year from the state and federal government, preventing drastic reductions in staff and programs during the shutdown and ensuring a smooth reopening.
  • Important support came from the Regional Arts and Culture Council, the Oregon Cultural Trust, the Oregon Arts Commission and the Cultural Advocacy Coalition of Oregon.

Equity Update

Last year, the Museum and the Northwest Film Center continued to advance work on racial equity. From exhibits to programs and partnerships, hosting conversations on issues of equity and racial justice, and elevating the BIPOC community remain priorities.

Knowing that COVID-19 continues to have a disproportionate impact on our communities of color, it was an honor to be able to share a message of resistance and hope from the renowned artist, Portland native and board member of the museum, Carrie Mae Weems. Beyond what is visible to the public, the Museum actively re-evaluates internal policies, creates new initiatives and learning opportunities, and strives to support BIPOC staff.

Mildred D. Field