Museums & History

Delve into the roots of the Portland region and enjoy the art of yesterday and today.

At these local monuments, museums and landmarks, you can explore Portland’s pioneer origins and Native history, as well as exceptional collections of art, crafts and more. Read on for our top picks of museums, historical offerings and things to do in and around Portland.

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Historic Sites & Features

Portland may seem like a young city, but you can still find plenty of history everywhere you look.

Museums & Historic Sites

Explore Portland's past at these local public parks, attractions and memorials.

5 to Try

More Museums

Discover even more about Portland and the world through these local institutions.

  • Oregon Maritime Museum

    Experience the adventure of river life when you explore the Oregon Maritime Museum, housed in the historic sternwheeler “Portland” on the Willamette River.

  • Portland Chinatown Museum

    Opened in 2018, Oregon's first museum to celebrate Chinese American history, art and culture tells the stories of Portland's historic Old Town Chinatown.

  • Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center Japanese American History Museum

    This museum serves as a focal point for the preservation and sharing of the history and culture of the Japanese American community in Portland's Old Town neighborhood.

  • Architectural Heritage Center

    The Architectural Heritage Center is a non-profit resource for historic preservation owned and operated by the Bosco-Milligan Foundation. They host educational programs, home tours, walking tours, exhibits and more.

  • Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education

    The mission of the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education is to interpret the Oregon Jewish experience, explore the lessons of the Holocaust and foster intercultural conversations.

A man posing in a photo display appearing to discected from an alien at the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium

Portland’s Weirdest Museums

From the world’s oldest (fake) museum to the only gallery focused on vintage vacuum cleaners, these attractions keep Portland weird.

Bridges of Portland

Learn the history and key features of the city’s 12 Willamette River crossings.

5 to try

Walkable Historic Bridges

A great way to see Portland is while crossing one of the city's iconic bridges.

  • Hawthorne Bridge

    Built in 1910, the Hawthorne Bridge is the oldest vertical lift bridge still in operation in America. The busiest bicycle transit bridge in the city, it connects downtown to the Eastbank Esplanade and Springwater on the Willamette trails.

  • St. Johns Bridge

    Built in 1931, this historic green suspension bridge connects Northwest and North Portland. The bridge’s picturesque dual, gothic-style towers inspired the name of Cathedral Park, believed to be one of 14 Lewis and Clark landing sites in the area.

  • Steel Bridge

    The double-decker Steel Bridge was built in 1912, connecting Old Town Chinatown and North Portland. Pedestrians and cyclists on the bridge's lower deck can travel between the Rose Quarter (home to the Trail Blazers) and the downtown waterfront.

  • Broadway Bridge

    One of the longest drawbridges (and most bike-friendly) in the world, the Broadway Bridge was built in 1913 to connect North and Northwest Portland. In 1963, the bridge was repainted from black to its now iconic "Golden Gate" red.

  • Tilikum Crossing

    Opened in 2012, this is the country's first bridge dedicated to light rail, buses, bikes and pedestrians. The cable-stayed structure is known as “Bridge of the People” (“Tilikum” translates to “people” in Chinook, a local Native American language).

Portland Walking Tours

A number of historical walking tours led by knowledgeable locals combine entertainment, education and exercise.

Upcoming History Events

Explore more of the city's history at these upcoming events.

Editor's Pick
 A Pittock Mansion Christmas
Nov. 27, 2020–Jan. 4, 2021

A Pittock Mansion Christmas

Pittock Mansion Adult $12, Youth $8, Senior $10, Free under 6

Pittock Mansion Christmas celebrates the wonderful world of animals with this year’s Critters Make Merry exhibit. From reindeer and polar bears to lions and mice and a few in between, volunteer decorators transform the Mansion’s rooms into enchanting animal havens. Tickets for this year’s event are limited due to capacity restrictions. All tickets must be…

Editor's Pick
Art & Design
Exhibition
History