Five hundred people enjoyed the Portland Museum of Art’s first Third Thursday on March 16, capturing the community’s love of First Friday art walks and happy hour hangouts all in one place.

“It’s kind of like First Friday’s little sister,” said Hannah LaSala of Portland. “And it has inspired me to get a membership again.”

The lower levels of the museum had a festival-like atmosphere, with family-friendly activities, a pop-up beaded jewelry shop by Loxley Designs, food from Fred’s Fried Dough and Mr. Tuna, drinks by The Black Tie Company and deejay Double Dessert spinning cool vibes.

“Music brings more life to the galleries,” said Cait Sherrick of Portland.

Many guests visited the architectural model of the museum’s expansion, the 2023 Youth Art Month exhibition in collaboration with Maine Art Education Association (closing April 2), and featured exhibit “American Perspectives: Stories from the American Folk Art Museum” (runs through May 7).

“There’s a diverse crowd partying in the museum,” said Michelle Doyle of Portland. “This is what they’re trying to do, build community into what the museum is.”

While the first Third Thursday was free for the first 500 people to register online, future events will be free for members, $5 per person for nonmembers (with financial support provided by Evergreen Credit Union). Each Third Thursday will feature different artists and vendors, whether the museum brings a “crafternoon,” a weeknight concert or a film premiere. The next one is 5-8 p.m. April 20.

“We want to introduce a new audience to the museum with a different atmosphere,” said Ashleigh Hill McKown, director of philanthropy. “And hopefully gain some new members.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at

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