7 Fascinating Museums in Portland That Will Take Your Breath Away

Take a little stay-cation and visit these interesting museums.

Portland is home to a rich and lively cultural scene. Whether you are a lover of the fine arts or you have always been fascinated by science, you will find a wide selection of museums that catch your eye. Looking to take a break from your house? Take a little stay-cation and visit some of Portland’s best museums! In our latest article, we’re featuring 7 of Portland’s best museums that will take your breath away.  

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1. Portland Art Museum

Art museum featuring pieces from Asia, Europe, and the Americas

You can find a wide range of painting styles among the galleries featured at the Portland Art Museum. Image courtesy of Yelp

1219 SW Park Ave | Downtown, Southwest Portland | portlandartmuseum.org

The Portland Art Museum is a popular destination among both residents and tourists for its wide selection of gorgeous art pieces. The museum’s primary mission is to engage with diverse communities through art and film. By collecting and preserving these rich pieces of art, they hope to inspire and educate all of the visitors that step through their doors. 

Some of the museum’s current exhibitions feature print art from Japanese artists, photographs from Navy ships in the 1940’s, and modern paintings from Portland artists. Along with free public tours, the Portland Art Museum also offers regular Artist Talk series and $5 after 5 PM Fridays. 

“The Mount St. Helen's exhibit was fascinating. I didn't know all the history behind that eruption so it was cool to learn through art. I was also extremely happy to find the original "Girl With a Marmot" painting! I have had a copy on my wall for years and never knew who painted it. The staff at the gift shop were particularly friendly and let us know about some exhibits we may have missed. 10/10 would recommend it if you have an afternoon to spare!” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for Portland Art Museum.

2. Portland Children’s Museum

Popular children’s museum perfect for sparking your little one’s curiosity

May be an image of child, standing and body of water
The Portland Children’s Museum encourages your child to use their imagination and creativity. Image courtesy of Facebook.

4015 SW Canyon Rd | Southwest Portland | portlandcm.org

At Portland Children’s Museum, many of the exhibits are co-created with its young audience. The museum encourages children to actively participate in their exhibits so that they can enjoy a truly immersive experience. Children aged 3 to 12 can find numerous exhibits that challenge and encourage their imagination and creativity skills. 

Some of the museum’s current exhibits include the construction zone, market, maker studio, and outdoor adventure space. The Pet Hospital, a make-believe veterinary clinic, is perfect for children who love animals. Children who enjoy cars will love the Vroom Room, which features trains, cars, and busses. 

“Wonderful place to take your kids. I have a 6 year old and she really enjoyed this place.  It is definitely a place she could have stayed all day.  When entering, they have several different sections to meet every kids' needs. From a water station to a vet to a construction working zone.  My daughter really enjoyed the clay making area.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for Portland Children’s Museum. 

3. Portland Japanese Garden

Stunning 12-acre Japanese garden featuring 8 separate spaces plus a Cultural Village

Escape the stress of your everyday life and escape to the Portland Japanese Garden. Image courtesy of Yelp

611 SW Kingston Ave | Southwest Portland | japanesegarden.org

In 1963, the Japanese Garden Society of Oregon built the Portland Japanese Garden. Founded to promote a more intimate relationship with Japanese culture and the city of Portland, the society eventually expanded with a Cultural Crossing site. 

Today, hundreds of thousands of people visit the garden’s stunning sites. Right now, the garden is open Thursday through Monday from 10am to 3:30pm. Members have extended morning hours. Your admission ticket will offer access to the garden, gift shop, cafe, and art exhibitions. Make sure you plan out enough time for your visit so you can enjoy all of the garden’s fascination features. 

“Beauty on top of beauty — the Portland Japanese Garden is a stunning botanical garden that is filled with so many magical stops.  The breathtaking views and thoughtful displays are just a well deserved treat for anyone of any age. Sections of the garden are still closed off because of COVID19 restrictions but there are still plenty to see and enjoy while roaming the grounds.” - Yelp Review

4. Oregon Museum of Science & Industry

One of the biggest science centers in the country

Pose for a picture at one of the museum’s many exhibits. Image courtesy of Yelp.

1945 SE Water Ave | Central Eastside, Hosford-Abernethy | omsi.edu

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry boasts three massive auditoriums along with a variety of fascinating hands-on exhibits. Guests can immerse themselves in the wonders of science inside the museum’s famous large-screen theater or out-of-this-world planetarium. 

Fascinating historical exhibits can also be found here, such as the temporary exhibit for 13th-century conqueror Genghis Khan. Historical artifacts including military technology and traditional art pieces will transport you back in time. Dinosaurs Revealed, which features 25 realistically-built dinosaurs, is also popular among visitors.

“The Pixar exhibit was phenomenal and something I highly recommend to Pixar/Disney lovers across all age groups. Planetarium was great and then we got to watch Super Dogs. The submarine tour was fantastic even though I'm claustrophobic it was really worth it. The guide was great and knowledgeable. Overall a really great experience I would come back.” - Yelp Review

5. World Forestry Center Discovery Museum

Non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness for sustainable forestry

Photo of World Forestry Center - Portland, OR, United States
Parents and kids can learn fascinating facts about trees and their aging patterns at this popular museum. Image courtesy of Yelp

4033 SW Canyon Rd | Southwest Portland | worldforestry.org

How much do you know about the gorgeous forests that inhabit Oregon? The World Forestry Center aims to raise awareness and interest in sustainable forestry practices. To do this, the center organizes special exhibits and events aimed to educate and inform the public on its interdependence on forests. On the campus, you can find a Discovery Museum and Magness Memorial Tree Farm. While both sites are temporarily closed, you will definitely want to visit them when they open again. 

“Wealth of information here and well worth a visit especially if you have kids. I've got two and three years old boys and they are very very busy. It was nice to come to a museum that was so kid friendly and had so much to touch and explore. Kids loved it and it was informative for me and the husband.” - Yelp Review

6. Oregon Historical Society Museum

Historic museum in Downtown Portland that houses the Portland Penny

Take a step back into history at the Oregon Historical Society Museum. Image courtesy of Yelp.

1200 SW Park Ave | Downtown, Southwest Portland | ohs.org

Located in Downtown Portland, the Oregon Historical Society preserves historic artifacts, photographs, manuscripts, books, and other creations to help educate its curious visitors. Various artists, writers, and researchers around the world have traveled to the Oregon Historical Society to examine its thought-provoking exhibits. There’s something incredibly enriching and satisfying about seeing artifacts from the past that make you think about your place in history as well as the place of those that lived before you. 

“I loved the Beer Barley, Barrels, Bottles, & Brews: 200 Years of Oregon Beer exhibit! It was so fun to see the background behind the Oregon and Portland beer scene and to learn about beer in general. The exhibit was beautiful, interactive and a lot of fun. I hope to see more awesome exhibits the next time I visit!” - Yelp Review

7. Pittock Mansion

Gorgeous home built in 1914 that has been preserved for history and art lovers

The second you step inside the house you will be transported to a whole new world. Image courtesy of Yelp.

3229 NW Pittock Dr | Portland | pittockmansion.org

Known as Portland’s finest historic house museum, the Pittock Mansion offers a unique and fascinating experience like no other. Guests can explore the house themselves or join a guided tour where they can learn more about the home’s architecture and history. School tours are also available for young children to take a deeper look into Portland’s earlier days. If you find yourself fascinated by the house, you have the option of going on a special behind the scenes tour of areas not usually open to the public. 

“It was gorgeous as we arrived so we toured the gardens first and got to watch some teenagers bicker about the perfect selfie angle. The gardens and flowers were beautiful as was the sky. Plus that bit is free! Next we toured the house and I appreciated the attention to detail of the craftsman who built the home, the architects and the historians who put up explanatory placards.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for Pittock Mansion. 

Portland is home to a wide selection of fascinating and unique museums. Which ones do you plan on visiting next? Let us know in the comments below!

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