The oldest art museum in the Pacific Northwest, the Portland Art Museum was founded in late 1892 when seven leaders from Portland’s business and cultural institutions created the Portland Art Association. The goal of the Association was to create a first-class art museum that would be accessible to all citizens.
The Museum purchased its first collection, approximately one hundred plaster casts of Greek and Roman sculptures, with a gift of $10,000 from prominent local citizen Henry Corbett. Two other local citizens, Winslow B. Ayer and his wife, selected the casts during a trip to Europe after receiving advice from professionals at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
This initial collection purchased by Ayer, named the Corbett Collection, went on display in the Portland Art Museum’s first location in a public library at SW 7th and Stark streets. It immediately became one of Portland’s most important and popular cultural resources, attracting art groups, school field trips, and large lecture audiences. [source]