PORTLAND – Mark Bessire has been hired as the new director of the Portland Museum of Art. Since 2003, Bessire has been director of the Bates College Museum of Art in Lewiston, best known for its Marsden Hartley Memorial Collection.

Founded in 1882, the PMA is Maine’s oldest and largest public art institution.

Bessire will begin his new position at the PMA on March 2.

Among his accomplishments at Bates, Bessire initiated a Collections Project Series, worked with departments to create cross-disciplinary exhibitions through a Synergy Fund, exhibited Chinese art in support of Bates’ Asian studies program, and strengthened the Friends of the Museum program. He was also a lecturer in the Humanities and chair of the Committee on Public Art.

Bessire was director of the Institute of Contemporary Art at the Maine College of Art from 1998 to 2003. He holds a master’s of business degree from Columbia University, a master’s degree in art history from Hunter College and a bachelor’s degree 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; has organized numerous traveling exhibitions; is active in local, community and national public art programs; lectures on museum studies and has participated on national art juries. He is a founding board member of the nonprofit Africa Schoolhouse, dedicated to building schools in rural Africa.

Bessire is married to Aimée Bessire, associate professor at the Maine College of Art. The couple reside with their two children in Portland.

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