Founded in 1909

Founded in 1909, we are a century-old art school with our eyes firmly on the future.

1909

The School of the Portland Art Association opens its doors as the first museum art school on the west coast. This ambitious endeavor was largely the brainchild of Anna Belle Crocker, who was soon appointed Curator and Principal of the Museum Art School; a role she would play until her retirement in 1936.

1914

 In 1914, the Museum Art School awarded its first three-year-study certificates and within the next years, enrollment reached 127 students. In keeping with demand, tuition, which had been lingering around $40 per class/per term, jumped to $50. Concurrent with growth among the student body was a movement within the board of trustees to acquire space for a new Museum and Art School, an endeavor that became official in 1930 when the trustees negotiated the purchase of a South Park blocks parcel in exchange for the Southwest Fifth Avenue and Taylor Street property. 

1946 

New York artist and former student Louis Bunce returned to his alma mater in 1946 to teach Abstract Expressionism

1947 

The school enjoys the arrival of another of its great teaching mentors (and affable rabble-rousers), Michele “Mike” Russo of Yale University’s Graduate School of Art. With his artist-wife Sally Haley in tow, Russo ushered in a new era for the school with an unabashed commitment to experimentation and a contagious zeal for provocation.

1961

Receives accreditation and membership from the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges.

1968

Liberal Arts studies curriculum added to its roster (the class of 1969 was the first to receive the BFA degree).

1970s

 Further expansion into the L. Hawley Hoffman Wing; designed by Portland architect Pietro Belluschi.

1981

In 1981, the school changes its name to Pacific Northwest College of Art in order to reflect its independence from the museum.

1982

Portland arts supporter and educator Sally Lawrence is appointed Director of the Pacific Northwest College of Art. 

1984

The College formally splits from the Portland Art Museum and is incorporated as a legal entity distinct from the museum.

1994

Sally Lawrence is appointed President by the Board of Governors. The College becomes independently incorporated and receives separate IRS tax-exempt status from the Museum. Final agreements are reached with the Museum in the purchase price for the Hoffman Wing, continuing access to the library, transfer of endowment income and a date for vacating the building.

The Oregonian compared the event to “a sprout moving from the greenhouse into the open air." The evolution of this 84-year relationship afforded the College financial independence and administrative freedom from the Museum. 

1998

The College moves into a 92,000-square-foot former warehouse located at 1241 NW Johnson Street. Redesigned by Holst Architecture, the building wins the Unbuilt Citation Award for Excellence in Design from the American Institute of Architects, and the Governor’s Livability Award.

2003

After 22 years at the helm, College president Sally Lawrence retires. Through a year-long national search, Dr. Thomas Manley is appointed President.

2004

PNCA has 285 BFA students, and 30 full and part-time faculty, and approximately 81,000 sq ft of leased facilities.

2006

With a projected 44% growth in enrollment since 2005, PNCA leads nationally in growth and has a record breaking overall student enrollment of 515 students and has set up a waiting list for new applications.

PNCA Board of Governors identifies facility ownership as priority.

PNCA’s Global Studios program creates international partnerships for students and faculty. 37% of this year's graduating class participated in at least one PNCA international studies initiative, up from 6% in 2005.

2007

Hallie Ford, a long-time arts supporter and co-founder of the Ford Family Foundation, donates $15 million to PNCA; the largest gift to an arts organization in Oregon’s history. The gift helps the College establish The Ford Institute for Visual Education (FIVE), which extends PNCA’s intellectual and resource platform through the PNCA+FIVE Idea Studios series, exhibitions, symposia, and the development of a series of graduate programs, internationally renowned artists in residence, and other programs, all of which enrich the environment for original thinking and creative enterprise.

In fall, the MFA in Visual Studies is launched. Chaired by MK Guth, it is the first MFA in the College’s history.

2009

The College enters its Centennial year with an unprecedented 48% growth in enrollment, making Pacific Northwest College of Art the fastest-growing independent art school in the nation. In Fall 2009, PNCA launches its second graduate program, the MFA in Applied Craft and Design, in collaboration with Oregon College of Art and Craft. It is the only joint degree of its kind in the nation.

The Portland Art Museum presents PNCA at 100, an exhibition featuring the work of over a dozen faculty and alumni of Pacific Northwest College of Art as PNCA enters its centennial year.

2008

Pacific Northwest College of Art announces the creation of a joint degree with Oregon College of Art and Craft. The joint MFA in Applied Craft and Design is the second MFA program at the College. The program is chaired by J.P. Reuer.

In Spring 2008, PNCA announces its $32 million fundraising campaign, The Centennial Campaign for PNCA+FIVE, which will raise capital for the acquisition and refurbishment of the PNCA main campus building, endowment for new academic programs and scholarships, as well as funds for special projects and on-going operations. Student enrollment grows to 489, full and part-time faculty more than double from 2004 with growth in new BFA and MFA programs.

$1 million donation from collector Ed Cauduro - nationally known art collector and philanthropist who lives in Portland, gives the money to create an endowment that will be managed by the Oregon Community Foundation, which manages funds donated by private individuals and businesses for the benefit of communities around the state. The new scholarship fund will provide four students with $10,000 annual scholarships. Both graduate and undergraduate students are eligible. The fund will also provide about $5,000 per year to help the scholarship students buy art materials and supplies. 

Pledges of $1 million from the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Care Foundation, Maybelle Clark Macdonald Fund and Al Solheim are received.

Portland launches FIVE Ideas Studios - an ongoing and portable series of conversations, lectures, and performances by internationally acclaimed practitioners from a range of fields and cultures as part of a broader PNCA + FIVE effort to highlight the importance of creativity in fostering innovation and civic imagination. 

PNCA reaches an agreement with the family of the late Edith Goodman purchases its main campus building, a 65,000 square-foot building that occupies the entire block between Northwest 12th and 13th avenues and Johnson and Kearney streets.

Pacific Northwest College of Art acquires the 1916-era former U.S. Post Office building at 511 NW Broadway through the federal government’s public benefit conveyance for educations purposes program. (GSA + Department of Education). 

PNCA receives a $500,000 grant from Meyer Memorial Trust. Helps to pay the mortgage on the Edith Goodman Building.

2009

As the College enters its Centennial year, it is with an unprecedented 48% growth in enrollment, making Pacific Northwest College of Art the fastest-growing independent art school in the nation as well as the only independent school of art in the Pacific Northwest to offer graduate education.

The Portland Art Museum presents PNCA at 100, an exhibition featuring the work of over a dozen faculty and alumni of Pacific Northwest College of Art as PNCA enters its centennial year.

In Fall 2009, PNCA launches its second graduate program, the MFA in Applied Craft and Design, in collaboration with Oregon College of Art and Craft. It is the only joint degree of its kind in the nation.

The College continues discussions started in November 2008 with the Museum of Contemporary Craft on integration. A joint task force of Museum and College officials meets to further explore the integration. Together, the College and the Museum hold a series of Community Conversations, as the two institutions move forward with plans to integrate the Museum into PNCA.

PNCA and Museum of Contemporary Craft integrate in the Fall of 2009.

PNCA Board of Governors begins preliminary capital campaign planning for 511 building. Student enrollment grows to 581. Full and part-time faculty grows to 92. With 511 still in planning stages, PNCA expands its lease holdings to accommodate BFA and MFA programs.   

2010

PNCA Board of Governors resolves to establish a future campus on the North Park Blocks, anchored with the 511 NW Broadway building. Student enrollment grows to 618. Full and part-time faculty grows to 102. PNCA occupies more than 125,000 sq ft to accommodate student and faculty growth, more than half in leased facilities.

2011

In June 2011, PNCA is awarded $740,000 challenge grant from the Portland Development Commission. PNCA will provide an equal funding match for a total project budget of $1,480,000. This will fund preparation of 20 percent of construction documents, due diligence for reuse of the 511 Building, and conceptual planning for consolidation and expansion of PNCA facilities –including the nearby PDC-owned Block R (parking lot across Broadway).  

2012

PNCA launches its MFA in Collaborative Design, chaired by Peter Schoonmaker and an MA in Critical Theory + Creative Research, co-chaired by Anne Marie Oliver and Barry Sanders.

PNCA announces a new BFA program in Video + Sound.

PNCA is awarded a $50,000 Paul G. Allen Family Foundation Grant for planning and renovation of the 511 Building.

PNCA welcomes Mark Takiguchi as new Academic Dean.

In June PNCA launches $15 million philanthropic campaign, Creativity Works Here, in support of the College’s strategic move to renovate the historic former federal post office at 511 NW Broadway and to anchor the PNCA campus on the North Park Blocks in downtown Portland. The Harold and Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation makes $5 million lead gift to PNCA to name the 511 NW Broadway building the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design. Early gifts include $500,000 from the late Ernie Swigert in honor of former PNCA president Sally Lawrence and $100,000 from the late Ed Cauduro, who established the Ed Cauduro Scholars at PNCA in 2008 with a gift of $1,000,000 through the Oregon Community Foundation.

2013

ArtHouse, PNCA’s new student housing facility, opens on Portland’s North Park Blocks within walking distance of  the future Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design. Developed in collaboration with the Powell Family, ArtHouse welcomes students in Fall 2013.

Portland Development Commission (PDC) commissioners support a $20.3 million loan package to PNCA for the renovation of the 511 building.

PNCA’s current Main Campus Building is sold to Seattle-based Security Properties. The net equity PNCA will realize from the $11.75 million sale is part of the financing structure for the $32 million new campus construction project. The College continues to lease back the NW Johnson campus building until it relocates to the new campus in January 2015.

2014

Construction begins on PNCA’s new home. Allied Works Architecture designed this renovation of Portland's historic first Post Office to bring light and flow through the center of the building. The flagship for PNCA’s new campus on Portland’s North Park Blocks, located in the former federal building at 511 NW Broadway.

The College launches the MFA in Print Media program.

2015

PNCA moves into its new main building, the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design in a renovated historic building on Portland's North Park Blocks. The college successfully concludes its $15 million capital campaign, Creativity Works Here, in support of the new campus.

2016

PNCA concludes a nationwide search for its next president and welcomes new president Donald Tuski, Ph.D. who had previously been at Maine College of Art.

PNCA launches the Center for Contemporary Art & Culture a platform for cultural production including exhibition, lecture, performance, and publication. Mack McFarland is appointed director. The Center for Contemporary Art & Culture is the steward of PNCA's collection and the 1,300+ piece permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Craft. Plans begin for the digital archiving of the collection, making information about the objects in the collection available to scholars and the public for the first time. 

2017

PNCA launches Make+Think+Code, a technology-focused research studio and lab supporting the radical reimagining of what can happen at the intersection of art, design, science, and technology.

PNCA renames its graduate critical theory program as the MA in Critical Studies program and welcomes Dr. Shawna Lipton as its new chair. The college also introduces a joint MA/MFA program for students in the MFA in Visual Studies, MFA in Print Media, and MFA in Collaborative Design programs.

PNCA forms the Alumni Council.

PNCA's Center for Contemporary Art & Culture completes the enormous project of digitally archiving every one of the 1,300+ pieces in the Contemporary Craft Collection and launches the Collection Browser.

2018

PNCA launches the MA in Design Systems for mid-career creatives who want to master complex systems modeling to become creative leaders who can make a difference in business, government, and non-profit sectors.

In addition, the college adds the Art & Ecology minor, its first. 

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