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
Being Present: Revisiting, Somewhat Unfaithfully, Portland’s Most Experimental Art Experiment, PCVA
Nov. 16, 2019–June 14, 2020

Being Present: Revisiting, Somewhat Unfaithfully, Portland’s Most Experimental Art Experiment, PCVA

Portland Art Museum Museum Admission: Free for Members, $20 Adults, $17 Seniors 62+ & College Students, Free Children 17 and under

“Portland has gotten a lot of attention in recent years for its thriving arts scene, but few people know about the organization that originally put the city on the art-world map: Portland Center for the Visual Arts (PCVA). PCVA was an artist-run contemporary art organization that brought innovative artists and performers from around the country…

Editor's Pick
Art & Design
Exhibition
History
Editor's Pick
The Art of Reading
Nov. 16, 2019–June 21, 2020

The Art of Reading

Portland Art Museum Museum Admission: Free for Members, $20 Adults, $17 Seniors 62+ & College Students, Free Children 17 and under

“Reading may be falling out of fashion in these times of increasingly short attention spans, but books were once a big business, and publishers employed gifted artists to promote their newest titles. The Art of Reading presents gems from the golden age of poster advertising, with color lithographs from some of the most famous names…

Editor's Pick
Art & Design
Exhibition
History