‘I can’t believe it’s been 10 years,” said Hilary Robbins, one of the founders of the Contemporaries, a group intended to get 21- to 45-year-olds to engage with the Portland Museum of Art.

Three hundred Contemporaries marked the group’s first decade at the Midsummer Party on July 12 at the PMA’s newly opened David E. Shaw and Family Sculpture Park in the Joan B. Burns Garden.

“For the past couple of years, we’ve thought so much about the accessibility of our collection,” said curator Andrew Eschelbacher. “Opening the sculpture park, which is a barrier-free space, amplifies that accessibility. Anytime the museum is open, anyone can walk in and see some exceptional art.”

The sculpture garden is green space where passers-by can eat lunch, sit and read or, perhaps, inspired by the surrounding art, sketch. And it was certainly a festive spot for a Midsummer Party, with salsa music by Primo Cubano, summery cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and handcrafted honey ice cream by Little Bee.

“It’s one of the best events of the season,” said Lizzy Jones, the museum’s director of audience engagement. “It represents Portland so well.”

“This event is the future leaders of the PMA,” said Graeme Kennedy, director of marketing. “This group represents that energy and enthusiasm that makes Portland such a great place to live. If there’s something really cool happening in Portland, usually there’s a Contemporaries member involved.”

“And it’s a rare showing of this many young people supporting the arts together,” said Erin Kiley, co-owner of the Flea-for-All.

“When I’m trying to recruit friends to a Contemporary event, I say there’s no better networking event in the best city in the world,” said Alex Fisher, founding partner of El Rayo Taqueria and founder of Planet Dog. “The fun, the laughter and the enjoyment delivers.”

Marika Ruppe of Pownal said that for a $200 annual membership, she’s able to attend six or seven private showings a year plus the semi-annual parties.

“It’s a great way to support the arts and community,” Ruppe said.

“And we come together and have the grandest of times,” said steering committee member Tawny Alvarez.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographed from Scarborough. She can be reached at:

[email protected]

This story was corrected at 4 p.m. July 31 to fix the age group of the Contemporaries, the cost of an annual membership and the name of a sculptor.