Know Before You Go
Hours are Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sunday noon–5 p.m.; admission charged. (Entry is free for children under 5 and for Multnomah County residents with ID.)
Discover Oregon’s fascinating history at the Oregon Historical Society , located on downtown’s South Park Blocks and across the street from the Portland Art Museum.
The museum features many permanent and rotating exhibits covering local history both before and after Oregon became a state in 1859. Experience Oregon, a permanent exhibition opened in 2019, takes over the entire third floor of the museum and spans the state’s vast geography and complicated history, representing the many people, places and events that shaped the land now known as Oregon.
Among the museum’s robust collection of historic artifacts is the “Portland Penny” — the very coin tossed in the air by city founders Asa Lovejoy (from Boston, Mass.) and Francis Pettygrove (of Portland, Maine) to determine which of their hometowns would be the new city’s namesake (“Portland” beat “Boston” on two out of the three tosses).
The Oregon Historical Society’s research library also contains the largest collection of Oregon-related books, photographs, films and oral histories anywhere in the world, and is great for researching a historic home or finding a long-lost Oregonian relative.
Monthly programs are often free and open to the public, featuring Oregon authors, historians and artists. (Information on upcoming and ongoing events can be found on the museum’s event calendar.) Visit the museum store to pick up a unique souvenir, including custom cards, magnets and housewares designed especially for the Oregon Historical Society.
Tree- and forest-lovers of all ages can learn about sustainability and experience a Portland icon at the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum.
High in the West Hills, the Pittock Mansion offers picture-perfect views of the city as well as a revealing insights into Portland's history.
The Portland Art Museum is central to the city's cultural district, housing a large and wide-ranging collection of artworks.