Oregon Historical Society Museum
The Oregon Historical Society was established in 1898.
The museum features exhibits that highlight Oregon's history from ancient times to today.
Backstory and Context
The Oregon Historical Society opened its first office and museum in Portland City Hall and began to develop a research library and a historical artifacts collection. In 1917, the society moved into Portland’s Public Auditorium, which is now the Keller Auditorium. In 1966, they moved to its current location at the corner of South West Jefferson and Park in downtown Portland. The artifacts collection consists of over 85,000 artifacts, including ancient objects from the earliest settlements and objects that illustrate exploration in the Oregon Country. These objects also show the growth of business and industry, the development of artwork, crafts, and naval history in the area. The Research Library consists of one of the country’s most widespread collections of state history materials, including maps, books, film or videotape, and other documents. The Research Library’s photographic collections include over 2.5 million images from pre-statehood to the present day.
The Oregon Historical Quarterly journal has been published continuously since 1900. Over 150 books on Oregon history, politics, and culture, as well as biographies, field guides, and exhibit catalogs, have been published by the Oregon Historical Society since the press was established in 1929. The Oregon Historical Society Education Programs include internet resources to enhance classroom curriculum. The programs also include folklife cultural programs that emphasize the diversity and beauty of arts and traditions.
Many artists in Oregon are working to capture and understand the landscape of Oregon through photography. The beauty of Oregon’s landscapes has inspired generations of artists, and these photographers carry forward the human ambition to depict the relationship between their own existence and nature’s elegance. This exhibition features the stirring works of ten contemporary landscape photographers and draws from the Oregon Historical Society’s extensive collections to provide an appropriate examination of the land, its people, and the artists.
The museum offers many exhibits such as Plastics Unwrapped, Working on the River: A History of Dredging, Oregon My Oregon, Oregon Voices: Change and Challenge in Modern Oregon History, and Clink! A Mini-Taste of Oregon Wine. Plastics Unwrapped discovers how material culture has changed, and it allows people to learn about how life was like before everyone used plastics. Working on the River: A History of Dredging allows you to learn about the people, as well as the machines that were instrumental in Oregon’s geography and history. Oregon My Oregon features important pieces from Oregon’s collection of artifacts. Oregon Voices: Change and Challenge in Modern Oregon History offers information about today’s technology and stories from technology of the past. Clink! A Mini-Taste of Oregon Wine offers a tasting gallery for visitors to taste and learn about wine.