PDXtoday City Guide Play Banner

Get cultured at museums around Portland

Whether you’re a history buff, art aficionado, or just really love kayaks, these 25 museums in Portland and nearby suburbs have it all.

Visitors at Portland Art Museum get an up close look at an oil painting portrait of a man in a suit holding spectacles.

Portland Art Museum’s permanent collections feature works from Europe, Asia, America, and Africa, as well as contemporary and ancient pieces.

Photo by Portland Art Museum

Table of Contents

Museums are the cultural hubs of Portland. Whether you’re looking to learn something new about the City of Roses or plotting a way to spend your Saturday afternoon, here are 25 museums to visit in our city.

Visitors read informational displays at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education.

The Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education revealed its expanded space in June 2023.

Photo by OJMCHE

History

Oregon Historical Society, 1200 SW Park Ave. | $5-$10
Explore the people, events, and artifacts that shaped the state and country as a whole, organized across three floors in permanent and traveling exhibits. All Multnomah County residents and school groups get free admission to the museum and library.

Don’t miss: “The Odyssey of the Historic Jantzen Beach Carousel” is sticking ‘round until Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023.

Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, 724 NW Davis St. | $5-$10
This expanded space reopened in June 2023 with four core exhibits and additional art galleries, providing a platform for intercultural exchange and remembrance.

Don’t miss: Read heart-wrenching, firsthand accounts in “The Holocaust, An Oregon Perspective.”

Japanese American Museum of Oregon, 411 NW Flanders St. | $5-$8
Formerly known as the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center — “nikkei” means a Japanese emigrant and their descendants who are not citizens of Japan — this cultural research institution inside the Naito Center highlights life in Portland’s Nihonmachi (Japantown) and the ramifications of Executive Order 9066.

Don’t miss: Photographs and statements from multiracial individuals in Kip Fulbeck’s “hapa.me” project give a touching perspective on identity and how it can change over time. It’s on display until Sunday, Aug. 13.

Portland Chinatown Museum, 127 NW Third Ave. | $5-$10
Go “Beyond the Gate” at Oregon’s first museum celebrating Chinese American culture, history, and art, which also hosts lectures and other public programming.

Don’t miss: Interact with a recreation of the Tuck Lung Company, a multigenerational family business preserved through artifacts, photos, and personal stories.

Hellenic-American Cultural Center & Museum, 3131 NE Glisan St.| Free
Textiles, oral histories, paintings, and more preserve and share the Greek American experience from the beginning, ushering it into the future.

Don’t miss: Ornate pottery like amphorae and lekythoi depicting ancient scenes.

End of the Oregon Trail, 1726 Washington St., Oregon City | $11-$15
At the western terminus of the famed migration path, visitors to the interpretive center can churn butter, dress up in period clothing, pack up a covered wagon, and dip their own candles.

Don’t miss: Stroll the heritage garden to find plants and vegetables like those grown by settlers.

Rainbow Cave created with recycled plastic bags and LEDs.

Kids are allowed in Hopscotch, but the focus is for adults to have a place to be playful too.

Photo by Hopscotch

Arts

Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Ave. | $22-$25
Founded in 1892, the oldest art museum in the Pacific Northwest now possesses 112,000 sqft of galleries and more than 50,000 objects, spanning many different eras, media, and geographic origin.

Don’t miss: Portland Art Museum Center for an Untold Tomorrow (PAMCUT) opens guests’ eyes to the world of cinema through screenings, festivals, meet-and-greets, and more.

Center for Contemporary Art & Culture, 511 NW Broadway | Free
Housed within the Pacific Northwest College of Art (and former post office building), this airy space encourages conversation and community.

Don’t miss: Browse their digitized collection of the Museum of Contemporary Craft from home.

Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at PSU, 1825 SW Broadway | Free
Open to students and the public, this 7,500-sqft space in the South Park Blocks aims to provide “rich, inclusive, and interdisciplinary programming.” Keep in mind the museum shuts down during the university’s summer break to install new exhibitions.

Don’t miss: Check out the opening of “A Question of Hu,” an exhibition featuring paintings of unidentified figures from historical photographs, whom artist Hung Liu calls “lost souls, spirit-ghosts.”

Hopscotch, 1020 SE 10th Ave.| $15-$24
Immerse yourself in this spectacular newcomer to Portland’s Goat Blocks. Each room holds a mind-bending experience, including a cosmic trampoline, laser graffiti, an out-of-body VR playroom, a rainbow ball pit... we could go on, but you need to discover it for yourself.

Don’t miss: Try the whimsical cocktails and playful food program developed by Sarah Hauman of “Top Chef” fame.

Morrison Street Mini Gallery, 3229 SE Morrison St. | Free
Sidewalk joy doesn’t get more pure than this Lilliputian display that rotates monthly.

Don’t miss: Past shows are available to see in the online archive.

Alternating images from the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks & Minerals.

The inner workings of the Earth rock; spend a couple hours digging into the wonders at Rice NW.

Photos by Ben McBee, PDXtoday

Science

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, 1945 SE Water Ave. | $13-$18
Come for the rotating exhibits, stay for the 200-seat planetarium.

Don’t miss: Dive beneath the surface on a tour of the USS Blueback, the US Navy’s last active duty diesel-electric submarine.

vintageTEK, 13489 SW Karl Braun Dr., Beaverton | Free
Tektronix is known for revolutionizing the tech industry with instruments used for measurement and testing, planting the seeds for Oregon’s “Silicon Forest” along the way. Get your hands on working products from the company’s earliest years.

Don’t miss: Small-group tours feature games, computer graphics, music, and science.

Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks & Minerals, 26385 NW Groveland Dr., Hillsboro | $8-$12
Better tie stones to your ankles or else this extensive collection of geologic wonders will blow you away.

Don’t miss: See how naturally occurring minerals react to different wavelengths of light in the Rainbow Gallery. It deserves all the glowing reviews.

A woman sits on an animated throne flanked by two cartoon knights.

Wonderwood Springs’ adventures rotate seasonally offering fresh excitement for worthy heroes.

Photo by Ben McBee, PDXtoday

Kids

Portland Puppet Museum, 906 SE Umatilla St. | Free
This homage to the ancient form of storytelling is the lifelong passion of founder/owner/curator Steven Overton, whose collection consists of approx. 2,700 stringed characters.

Don’t miss: Bow or curtsy to the 2-ft-tall regal likeness of Queen Elizabeth II, a picture of which was said to grace the desk of the namesake monarch.

Wonderwood Springs, 7410 N. Chicago Ave. | Free
Embark on a fantastical cartoon quest created by Mike Bennett and fellow artists — just watch out for the Rat King.

Don’t miss: Before your adventure, load up on provisions at the cafe next door.

Oregon Rail Heritage Center, 2250 SE Water Ave. | Free
All aboard for a day of learning about vintage steam locomotives; peek into the machine shop to see how volunteers manufacture parts to help preserve each engine.

Don’t miss: Choo choose to take an open-air train ride offered March-September.

Portland Insectarium, 7836 SE 13th Ave. | $6-$9
Feeling brave? Try holding some of the crawling critters in your hand, or enjoy their uncanny beauty from behind the glass.

Don’t miss: Get an up-close look at the bugs’ interesting anatomy under a microscope.

A woman poses for a fake photo on an extraterrestrial examination table

Portland’s Freakybuttrue Peculiarium is home to many tall tales.

Photo by @travelguirre

Special interests

World Forestry Center, 4033 SW Canyon Rd.| $5
Located in Washington Park, the Discovery Museum appeals to lumberjacks and tree huggers alike, showcasing documentaries and exhibits that explore our vital relationship with the woods.

Don’t miss: Explore the varying habitats of local wildlife and realize your connection with nature at “The Future of Forests.”

Oregon Maritime Museum, 198 SW Naito Pkwy. | $3-$7
A voyage of discovery awaits aboard the last operating steam-powered sternwheel tugboat in the US. Docents will take you on a tour from the pilot house to the engine room, and everything in between.

Don’t miss: The library’s shelves hold 2,500 volumes and 22,000 photographs related to life on the water, here and elsewhere around the world.

Stark’s Vacuum Museum, 107 NE Grand Ave. | Free
Ironically, this exhibit and timeline of the cleaning machine — complete with 25 mounted models — does not suck.

Don’t miss: Bring a buddy to imagine operating the two-person Cyclone vacuum from 1910.

Freakybuttrue Peculiarium, 2234 NW Thurman St. | $7-$10
Hug a Sasquatch. Get operated on by aliens. Kiss the Krampus. These are just a few things to do at the epicenter of Portland’s weirdness.

Don’t miss: Peruse the unnerving cabinet cards of Colin Batty.

Architectural Heritage Center, 701 SE Grand Ave. | $8
Learn how Portland was literally built and see artifacts ranging from stained-glass windows to cast-iron keystones and bronze doorknobs.

Don’t miss: Move beyond the walls on an organized walking tour in the city.

Movie Madness Film Museum, 4320 SE Belmont St.| Free
Motion-picture history comes to life in this collection of 100+ costumes and props from classics like “Citizen Kane” and “Fight Club.”

Don’t miss: Diane Keaton’s dress from “The Godfather Part II” is particularly dazzling.

The Zymoglyphic Museum, 6225 SE Alder St. | Free
Before you ask, this destination specializes in “the collection and arrangement of objects weathered by natural forces for poetic effect” and “fermentation, specifically the solid residue of creative fermentation on natural objects.”

Don’t miss: The flora and fauna in the natural history exhibit will have you saying “huh,” or maybe even leave you speechless.

Have you visited a local museum, art gallery, or an arts/cultural event in the last 6 months?

A. Yes
B. No

Check out our other Guides
Check out these hiking trails catered to all skill levels in and around the City of Roses for outdoor adventures.
Make the most of good weather by taking your meals al fresco on one of Portland’s many beautiful patios.
Make the most of the warm weather with this list of the best local events and activities happening this summer.
This list of volunteer opportunities around Rose City includes everything from fostering a pet to mentoring at-risk youth.
To help make your entire process at PDX as smooth as possible, we’ve created a guide that covers everything from gates and parking to details on the airport’s 70 nonstop flights.
From lifting weights, indoor rock climbing, personal training, dance fitness, boxing classes, and martial arts programs — we’ve rounded up 25+ gyms and fitness offerings around Portland.
Spring into the new season with our guide to 23 local activities.
Learn about the biggest industries and employers in Portland and its surrounding counties with this guide to local business.
We’re highlighting the best kid-friendly activities that Portand has to offer — complete with art classes, animal encounters, and outdoor fun.
Check out this list of local spots to host your special event.
PDXtoday phone
Good news for Portland.
Get the best local news & events sent to your inbox each morning, for free.