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The 15 Best Museums In Portland

30 March, 2022by Bounce

On a flight to Portland Airport? Portland stands as the largest city in Oregon and also the most bike friendly place to visit in all of the US. This up-and-coming city is the 10th fastest growing in America and is popular among millennials giving it life and energy, although everybody is welcome to visit. You might have heard of Portland being called the City of Roses, which is actually because the town is home to the United State's oldest public rose garden.

If you want to learn more about the city and its history alongside an abundance of other topics then you should do some exploring around the different museums in the area. Before makig your way to your choice of exhibit, stop by a bag storage facility in Portland to stow away your things.

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

The huge Science and Industry Oregon museum always has something going on and is a favorite among locals and tourists. People of all ages can have a blast here with an on-site planetarium, a movie theater showing educational films, and an abundance of interactive exhibits.

The museum has five halls and it can take a whole day to explore it all so make sure to keep your schedule free when visiting. Looking for something to do at night in Portland? Adults can come back at night for drinks and scientific lectures. The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm from Tuesday to Sunday and every day between 10 am and 7 pm during the summertime.

Portland Art Museum

The Portland Art Museum is special because it is the oldest museum in the whole Pacific Northwest and also the largest in Oregon. Here you can find a variety of artworks from different ages and time periods. The museum is split into two buildings which can be found in the South Park Blocks of Portland.

The museum has everything related to drawings, prints, paintings, photographs, and other works from different places around the world including Northwestern and Asian art and a European and American collection. There are impressive individual pieces and sections, including the Center for Native American Art, as well as traveling exhibits that are definitely worth visiting. Stop by anytime between Wednesday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm.

The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium and Museum

This is where you should go if you want to see some truly weird things that you don't get to see every day. The museum is filled with special exhibits centered around strange science fiction topics. This place isn't for everyone but we definitely recommend checking it out while you are in town.

Some of the topics include Bigfoot, aliens and other related beings. If you're brave enough you can buy an ice cream that has live bugs as toppings! The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium and Museum is open from Tuesday to Thursday from 11 am to 6 pm, on Friday and Saturday between 11 am and 8 pm, and on Sunday from 11 am to 7 pm.

Oregon Rail Heritage Center

If you want to learn about the Oregon railway and trains then this is the place to go. The museum is located in a warehouse in Portland's industrial district and right beside the railway tracks used by freight trains and commuter locomotives.

The museum is home to three historic trains; the Southern Pacific 4449, the Oregon Railway & Navigation 197 and the Spokane, Portland & Seattle 700. Since the warehouse is also used to repair trains you will most likely see workers on the job while you are there.

Portland Japanese Garden

This is the perfect place to visit between museums when you want to take a break and enjoy some fresh air. These gardens were constructed by Japanese artists and the local Japanese community in an attempt to make a stronger and more intimate connection with their culture in Oregon.

The gardens now span for a total of 12 acres and visitors can stroll through 8 separate areas and a Cultural Village. Other than access to the grounds you will get to visit the museum store, cafe and art gallery. They are open Thursday to Monday between 10 am to 3:30 pm.

Five Oaks Museum

This Portland museum, formerly known as the Washington County Historical Society, hosts exhibits that display the amazing culture of Oregon. You can learn a lot here about the city, its people and its story, making it a great spot for anyone who is new to the area and wants to learn more about it.

You can hear stories about the locals and the city of Portland when you visit the museum which is open Wednesday to Friday between 12 pm and 4 pm as well as Saturdays between 10 am and 4 pm.

Oregon Maritime Museum

Portland is located on the Willamette River which has had a big impact on the city and its development. You can learn all about the river, and even take a ride on it, at the Oregon Maritime Museum. You will find this museum housed on an old boat that is docked permanently on the river.

On the vessel you can learn about how the city contributed to World War II by making cargo ships, how the river has contributed to Portland's development. and more. You can step foot into the museum on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 am to 4 pm.

Portland Children's Museum

If you are traveling as a family with kids then this is a great place to spend an afternoon. The establishment is targeted toward children aged 3 to 12 and encourages them to learn and try things with a hands-on approach.

This is one of the city's best kid friendly museums. Some of the areas that the little ones can enjoy include an outdoor adventure space, the Vroom Room with cars, an area about trains and buses, a maker studio, construction zone and a pet hospital for animal lovers.

World Forestry Center Discovery Museum

The World Forestry Center Discovery Museum is located in the city's Washington Park. The building is filled with interactive displays and educational exhibits that can teach you all about forests and what makes them important.

This museum is great for nature lovers but we recommend that all travelers in Portland stop by since everyone can learn something new about the local and global forests. It is affordable too so if you find yourself in the area make sure to check it out!

The End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center

Just outside of the city of Portland is the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. The establishment is dedicated to the historic places and people of Oregon. You can listen to oral histories from costumed staff members that are both entertaining and educational.

The whole area is made to fit the theme and on-site theaters can show you the development of the city through video displays. Workshops and events are put on in the summertime, and if you want to buy a souvenir make sure to stop by the gift shop.

Pittock Mansion

This place is great for both history and art enthusiasts. The Henry Pittock Mansion was built back in 1914 and has been well preserved to welcome visitors through its doors. Today it is the best historic house museum standing in the city of Portland.

You can explore the mansion either on your own or with a tour guide that can tell you all about the building. Come and appreciate the architecture and design of this old house! The grounds and gardens are also open for exploration.

Oregon Historical Society

You will find this museum right across from the Portland Art Museum so you can visit both in one day if you want to. Here you can learn all about the history of the city from back when it was first founded and all the way to the present time.

The establishment is filled with permanent displays and visiting exhibits as well as enthusiastic staff that can tell you a lot about the city. Come visit anytime between 9:30 am and 7 pm any day of the week. Aside from the normal displays the museum has a planetarium, theater and submarine exhibits.

Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

Go to Portland University to reach this local museum. It focuses on contemporary art and is a popular spot among the community. The museum displays work by national and international artists, college students and faculty as well as other Northwest art creators.

The museum only covers two floors so it is fairly small. Entry is also free which makes it the perfect quick stop between sightseeing or other activities around Portland.

Architectural Heritage Center

Portland's Architectural Heritage Center is worth visiting for more than its displays, but also for the workshops, programs, seminars and tours that are offered. It is a good place for learning something new and being active as well, since Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings between May and September you can sign up for educational walking tours around the neighborhood.

On the first Fridays of the month, they host the First Fridays Art Walk which has a free reception and art exhibition. Once per year you will get to enter some local houses to see the interior architecture up close, so check to see if the home tours are going on while you are in town!

Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals

Let's end our list with the Rice Northwest Museum of Rock and Minerals which is home to one of the most extensive rock and mineral collections in the nation. The gallery, which is 10,000 square feet large, is the former home of the Rice family, hence the name.

Today you can visit the building to see an impressive collection of meteorites as well as the largest opal-filled thunderegg in the world. Stopping by the museum is the perfect weekend activity and can be visited between Friday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm.

What are the Best Free Museums in Portland?

Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

You can see some beautiful modern and contemporary art at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, and the best part is that entry is completely free!

The Freakybuttrue Peculiariam and Museum

Nothing is normal at the Freakybuttrue Peculiariam and Museum including its tickets; if you dress up in a worthy costume then you will be let in for free! Dogs are also welcome free of charge, and regular tickets are around $5 if you don't want to dress up.

What are the Best Museums in Downtown Portland?

Oregon Maritime Museum

The Oregon Maritime Museum is located on an old ship moored right off of the Willamette River going through Downtown Portland.

Architectural Heritage Center

If you find yourself in Downtown Portland make sure to stop by the Architectural Heritage Center. It is not far away from the city center and some of the other museums so you can hit more than one spot in a day.

Are There any Cheap Museums in Portland?

Five Oaks Museum

The Five Oaks Museum is affordable with tickets priced at about $5! Keep it in mind if you are looking for any cheap activities while you are in Portland.

World Forestry Center Discovery Museum

Another cheap museum in Portland is the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum. Tickets cost about $8 adults for adults, around $7 for seniors, about $5 for kids and any visitors under the age of three get in for free.

Visit These Portland Museums

The museums of Portland can provide you with an amazing experience whether you want to see ancient artifacts, appreciate impressive architecture, learn about nature, visit old trains, or enter a retired navy submarine. If you are interested in art the city has more than enough options with galleries ranging from fine art, graphic arts, contemporary pieces and more.

It is always fun to learn about the city when you travel so you can go home knowing more than when you arrived. Make the most of your time in Portland by experiencing all that the city has to offer, from museums to landmarks and tourist attractions.

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