A Complete Guide to Portland's Museums

A Complete Guide to Portland's Museums

Get a dose of Portland's history and culture with this comprehensive guide, and be prepared to "museum hop" in one of America's most educated cities.

Museums are very special places - each museum has a different personality, and tells its own unique story, giving distinctive experiences to each visitor.

Portland, Oregon, known as one of the most educated cities in the United States, has an exceptionally distinct list of museums. From fine art, to history, to science – and even a firefighter museum – this list will act as a guide on your museum adventures in one of America’s most intelligent cities.

Oregon Rail Heritage Center

Source: http://nmra2015.sbcrailway.ca

This museum, which is run entirely by volunteers, displays trains from the past. Three vintage steam trains are on exhibit here - two of which are still in working condition!

Train lovers rejoice! Want to experience riding in an antique locomotive? You have a chance of booking a ride aboard the center’s December “Holiday Express.” Boarding in Oaks Park, be prepared for a scenic ride along the Willamette River. If you can’t book a ride, don’t worry: the center offers events and activities year-round. Check their website for more details.

Go on a first-class ticket train ride down Oregon’s railroad history at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center! Best thing is? It’s free! All aboard!


The Oregon Rail Heritage Center
2250 SE Water Ave
Portland, OR 97214

Hours:
1pm – 5pm, Thursdays to Sundays
Closed on Mondays to Wednesdays
Admission is free
For more information, visit their website: http://www.orhf.org/

Oregon Maritime Center and Museum

Source: http://www.tripadvisor.com

Ahoy, matey! Take an adventure and learn about the history of maritime travel and commerce at the Oregon Maritime Center and Museum. The museum is located onboard The Portland, which is “the last steam-powered, stern-wheel tugboat to be built in the United States.” It’s still in operation, too! The tugboat is anchored at the Willamette River in downtown Portland’s Waterfront Park.

Using the same technology as when it was built, the engine room is a fascinating exhibit. Other exhibits include instruments used for navigation, ship models, and photographs and artifacts relating to vessels and maritime history.

Your child (or your inner child) will surely enjoy the interactive children’s corner, which features nautical apparatuses that can be operated. Blow a ship’s whistle, or operate a governor! Listen to tales and watch the guides bring to life what life aboard a tugboat is like.

Oregon Maritime Center and Museum
198 Southwest Natio Pkwy.
Portland, OR 97204

Hours:
11am – 4pm, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Last tour begins at 3:15pm.
Closed on Sundays to Tuesdays, Thursdays

General admission: $7
For more information, visit their website: http://www.oregonmaritimemuseum.org/

Museum of Contemporary Craft

Source: http://untitled.pnca.edu/

The Museum of Contemporary Craft is the oldest running craft institution in the country. Continuously running since 1937, this museum showcases Portland’s long history with crafting, and actively seeks out artists who can turn glass, wood, fiber and ceramic into stunning jewelry, pottery, and other works of objets d’art.

Formerly known as the Oregon Ceramic Studio, this museum/art studio has recently partnered up with the Pacific Northwest College of Art to expand its focus to include design, and to spearhead groundbreaking movements in the world of arts and crafts.

The museum is airy and open, with a collection of permanent displays and temporary exhibits. Workshops and lecture rooms are at the back. The Gallery Store is an exhibit in itself, featuring the exquisite works of artists all over the country. Whether you’re buying art or beautiful, unique souvenirs, a visit to the Gallery Store is a must.

Tip: Enjoy free admission on the first Thursday of each month, as part of the “Pearl District’s First Thursday Art Walk.”


The Museum of Contemporary Craft
724 NW Davis St.
Portland, OR 97209

Hours:
11am – 6pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays
11am – 8pm, first Thursday of the month (admission is free)
Closed on Sundays and Mondays

General admission: $4
For more information, visit their website: http://www.museumofcontemporarycraft.org/

Portland Art Museum

Source: http://blogs.evergreen.edu/

The Portland Art Museum is known as the “the oldest museum on the West Coast.” It displays all kinds of works of art from around the world - from Western European paintings to Asian sculptures and pottery. Among the oldest are Chinese ceramics that are more than 2,000 years old! If you appreciate photography, don’t miss out on the photographs from the 19th and 20th century, with over 5,000 photos in the collection!

One of the museum’s highlights is the The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Center for Native American Art. Housing over 5,000 artifacts from different Native American tribes of the United States, this collection is “one of the most comprehensive of historic Native culture in the country.”

Portland Art Museum: Center for Contemporary Native Art

Photo credit: https://www.travelportland.com

The Portland Art Museum launched the Center for Contemporary Native Art in order to celebrate the beauty of past and current Native American art. The center will host two exhibits per year, plus related lectures and activities.

As of the time of writing, the exhibit is “Thlatwa Thlatwa: Indigenous Currents," where visitors get a chance to learn traditional basket weaving and carving, and immerse themselves in Native American art and culture throughout history. Thlatwa Thlatwa will run until March 13, 2016.

Tip: Enjoy free admission from 5pm – 8pm on the first Thursday of each month. If you can’t make it on Thursdays, they also offer $5 admission on Friday evenings, 5pm – 8pm.


The Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park Ave.
Portland, OR 97205

Hours:
10am – 5pm, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays
10am – 8pm, Thursdays and Fridays
Closed on Mondays

General admission: $19.99. Free admission for children under 17 years.
For more information, visit their website: http://portlandartmuseum.org/

Historic Belmont Firehouse

Photo credit: http://portlandoregondailyphoto.blogspot.com

Visit the “Safety Learning Center and Fire Museum” at the historic Belmont Firehouse. Experience educational fun with their tours, where you learn more about the going-ons in the firehouse, and learn more about fire safety. During the tour, you can experience the emergency response simulator and even slide down the firehouse fire pole. There’s even an exhibit on antique firefighting tools, like a hand pumper from 1859, or a steam pumper from 1879. A photo exhibit on fires and other related events are also on display.

Schedule your tour in advance to make the most out of this experience. A 30-minute audio tour is available for $1.

The Historic Belmont Firehouse
900 SE 35th Ave.
Portland, OR 97214

Hours:
9am – 3pm, Wednesdays
9am – 3pm, second Saturday of each month
For more information, visit their website: http://www.jeffmorrisfoundation.org/

Architectural Heritage Center

Source: http://www.visitahc.org/

Learn more about architecture in Portland through seminars, tours, and other events and activities. Perhaps the most popular activity they host is the walking tours on summer months.

Each year, from May to September, the AHC offers guided walking tours around the city’s most historic neighborhoods, where you can learn about the architecture and history of the buildings. Watch for their home tours, where you get to visit historical homes. Check their website to keep updated of their programs.

Tip: The AHC hosts a free art exhibit and reception on every first Friday of the month, as part of the First Friday Art Walk.


The Architectural Heritage Center
701 SE Grand Ave.
Portland, OR 97214
Phone: 503-231-7264

Hours:
9am – 5pm, Wednesdays to Saturdays
Closed on Sundays to Tuesdays
For more information, visit their website: http://www.visitahc.org/

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org

Focusing on technology and science, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry features a number of interactive exhibits that offers educational fun for kids and grown-ups alike. Learn more about outer space and computers, or explore biology and chemistry with their interactive exhibits and laboratories. Take a tour on the USS Blueback, which is a retired navy submarine moored on the river outside. The museum also has a planetarium, an IMAX theater and a motion simulator featuring different activities.

Drop in the Theory Café after your day at the museum, where you can enjoy oven-fired pizzas and burgers with a view of the Willamette River.

Tip: The OMSI offers “After Dark”, which is a cocktail and beer party plus science talks. For ages 21 and above only.


The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
1945 SE Water Ave.
Portland, OR 97214

Hours:
9:30am – 5:30pm,Tuesdays to Fridays, Sundays
9:30am – 9pm, Saturdays
Closed on Mondays

General admission: $13.50
For more information, visit their website: http://www.omsi.edu/

Oregon Historical Society Museum

Source: http://www.tripadvisor.com

History lovers will enjoy visiting this museum that begins its tale from when “the Native Americans and hearty pioneers settled the Oregon Territory in the mid-19th century.” Featuring over 85,000 artifacts and photographs is the award-winning exhibit “Oregon My Oregon.” Walk through time with the displays, across the entire history of Oregon, including the Great Depression and World War II.

The museum was established in 1898, and has about 44,000 visitors per year.

Oregon Historical Society Museum
1200 SW Park Ave.
Portland, OR 97205

Hours:
10am – 5pm, Mondays to Saturdays
12pm – 5pm, Sundays

General admission: $10
For more information, visit their website: http://www.ohs.org/

Portland Children's Museum

Source: http://www.trekaroo.com/

In this interactive museum, children can gain a better understanding of the natural world and of society in general by playing. Exhibits include creating with clay, playing dress-up, working on art projects, and role-playing in a pet hospital or grocery store and bistro. Check out their website for more information.


Portland Children's Museum
4015 SW Canyon Rd.
Portland, OR 97221

Hours:
9am -5pm, open daily

General admission: $10.75
For more information, visit their website: http://www.portlandcm.org/

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