“The Lobby” Is a Semi-Secret Art Museum in Southeast Portland’s Ellen Browning Building

The current exhibit is called “Between Two Points,” which features nine works by a variety of artists, including world-renowned architect Maya Lin.

Ellen Browning Lobby (Mario Gallucci/The Lobby)

It’s impossible to miss the Ellen Browning Building. The 34,000-square-foot luxury retirement community on Southeast Division Street, which opened in 2022, stands four stories tall and has walls that resemble a corrugated aluminum sheet. Individual square units are stacked on top of one another, sloping away from the street.

If the exterior weren’t interesting enough, as you walk into the main entrance you find yourself inside an art gallery called The Lobby—a secret to most anyone who doesn’t live in or visit someone who resides at the Ellen Browning. Yes, it’s open to the public—10 am to 2 pm Tuesday through Saturday. The displayed art changes every four to six months.

Ellen Browning Lobby (Mario Gallucci/The Lobby)

The current exhibit is called Between Two Points, which features nine works by a variety of artists, including world-renowned architect Maya Lin, groundbreaking Cuban American painter Carmen Herrera, and French conceptual sculptor and painter Daniel Buren. All of the pieces, despite the different approaches of their creators, make a statement about the complexity of lines. You’ll find everything from a large black line on a red backdrop to a stained-glass window to the likeness of river trails expressed through recycled silver.

Curator Sima Familant says this exhibit shows the different ways that lines can be used, whether it’s the literal lines in a piece or what they represent. All of the featured pieces in The Lobby, both past and present, come from building owner Molly McCabe’s private collection, which she has been developing for 12 years.

“I have this collection that I thought was such a shame, it’s in a warehouse,” McCabe says. “I really believe art is created to be shared, so my art dealer and I came up with this idea for The Lobby when we built the building. Every piece has some kind of story behind it, and I like being able to share that with the community.”

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