The Best Art Galleries In Portland, Maine

Lauren England

Portland is home to a strong selection of established contemporary galleries, and a growing number of off-the-wall spaces dedicated to experimental approaches and unique exhibitions. These ten must-see art galleries and spaces in Portland demonstrate Maine’s commitment to culture and showcase the works of talented local artists while keeping an eye on global trends.

mage Courtesy of PhoPa Gallery

1. Institute for Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art

Art Gallery

The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the Maine College of Art (MECA) is a must-visit venue for those seeking out the latest trends and perspectives in contemporary art. The stunning gallery in the college’s landmark Porteous Building is celebrated for the presentation of cutting-edge contemporary art by local, national and international artists such as Bryan Graf, Allan Kaprow, Kate Gilmore, and Ander Mikalson. Exhibitions at ICA discuss a wide variety of critical concepts through a broad spectrum of media including digital media, sound, performance, installation and fine art sculpture among others. ICA also displays works by MECA faculty members and students, and holds numerous public events throughout the year such as lectures, workshops and performances. Working closely with artists and the local community, ICA offers a unique insight into the artistic profession with first-hand experience provided by visiting artists.

2. The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies


Although first and foremost a non-profit school, the Salt Institute is also a key contemporary art venue in the region, known for their stunning and emotive exhibitions of documentary photography. Established in Kennebunk, Maine in 1973 by Pamela Wood, the Salt Institute has relocated five times and undergone many changes over the years. Working across the fields of documentary writing, radio, photography and new media the gallery has, however, maintained a focus on photographic works that convey the power of storytelling. Powerful exhibitions by photographers such as Angelo Meredino and Jeremy Lurgio aim to convey strong emotions, inspiring and transporting the viewer through the evocative power of photography. The Salt Institute also holds exhibitions of student work and an annual competition showcasing works created by the best emerging photographers from the United States, Canada and the UK in association with the Magenta Foundation.

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