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Director of the Portland Museum of Art, Mark Bessire, will sit down with Portland Press Herald CEO Lisa DeSisto for a conversation at the Portland Museum of Art on Wednesday, May 1 at 8 a.m. Doors open at 7:30 a.m., coffee and light breakfast will be available.

About Mark Bessire

Mark H.C. Bessire was named Judy and Leonard Lauder Director of the Portland Museum of Art in 2009. In the years since, Bessire has led the PMA through a period of unprecedented growth, evolution, and innovation across collections, exhibitions, audience engagement, community collaboration, and critically, diversity, equity, inclusivity, access, and sustainability.

In February 2022, Bessire announced The PMA Blueprint: Building A Landmark For The Future, an $100 million dollar project based on community, collection, and campus. At the heart of The PMA Blueprint is a call for a paradigm shift for museums, in order to deliver on the promise of Art for All. This shift will be embodied by a new, architecturally significant, and innovative building at 142 Free St, a property adjacent to the PMA’s iconic Charles Shipman Payson Building that the museum purchased in 2019. The PMA Blueprint envisions the museum as a keystone for Maine’s communities, a catalyst for its economy, and a backbone of its identity.

Prior to serving as Director of the PMA, Bessire was the Director of the Bates College Museum of Art in Lewiston, Maine, where he initiated a Collections Project Series, worked with departments to create cross-disciplinary exhibitions through a Synergy Fund, exhibited Chinese art to support Bates’ strong Asian Studies program, and strengthened the Friends of the Museum program. From 1998 to 2003, he served as Director of the Institute of Contemporary Art at the Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine, where he organized many exhibitions, including The Photography of Ike Ude and Eracism: William Pope.L, which traveled nationally and was accompanied by an MIT Press Publication.

Bessire holds an M.B.A. from Columbia University, an M.A. in Art History from Hunter College, and a B.A. from New York University. He was a Helena Rubinstein Fellow at the Whitney Museum of Art and a Fulbright Fellow in Tanzania. He has published widely, including three books with MIT Press, has organized numerous traveling exhibitions, and has participated on national art juries.


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