When 8,500 people descended on the Portland Art Museum for the revived Portland Book Festival in 2015, the message to its new organizer, Literary Arts, was clear: Portlanders love to get their read on, and this festival — missing in action for more than two years — had not been forgotten.
Founded in 2005 by local writer Larry Colton and renamed in 2018, the annual festival always featured an impressive lineup of local and national authors and a book fair. But its original incarnation, held at the expansive Oregon Convention Center through–2013, wasn’t quite the “metaphorical public square” that Literary Arts Executive Director Andrew Proctor, the festival’s new leader, had in mind.
Enter the Portland Art Museum. As the festival’s rebooted primary venue, the museum provides a backdrop for art, history and culture to merge with conversation, books and ideas. (Other venues include the nearby Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Powell’s City of Books, Pioneer Place, The Northwest Children’s Theater and School and Rontoms). The festival is packed with on-stage author conversations, interviews, panels, interactive Q&A’s, pop-up readings in galleries and coffee shops, kids’ story times, live music, an expanded book fair and — in true Portland fashion — food trucks parked outside on festival day.