PORTLAND — The Portland Museum of Art weighed in on the Labor Department mural controversy this afternoon.

Museum Director Mark H.C. Bessire issued the following statement:

“Maine – a state long renowned as the home of Frederic Church, Winslow Homer, Andrew Wyeth, Louise Nevelson, Alex Katz, and so many other artists that provide the very way Americans look at their land and its people today – finds its reputation as a place of storied creativity tarnished. The decision to remove ‘The Maine Labor Mural Cycle’ from the headquarters of the Department of Labor not only contravenes the thoughtful process by which public art is selected in Maine, but, more importantly, has made our state the focus of unwanted national attention as an environment unfriendly to labor and art.

“The historical role of Maine as muse and refuge for generations of Americans is called into question by this single action. I call on Gov. Paul LePage to return the mural to public view in the Department of Labor as a means of signaling to the country that our state is affirming of the creative economy that is not only the foundation of the tourist industry, but also of the ecumenical values of Maine that are an instrumental part of American culture.”