Portland is a one-of-a-kind city with plenty to offer residents. In addition to its great restaurants and shopping, it also features a world-class museum scene with something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in learning about fine art, history, trains, or even sci-fi films, Portland is home to some of the best museums on the West Coast. Here is a look at some of the best museums in Portland that you can check out next time you have a free weekend or afternoon.
1. The Portland Museum of Art
The Portland Museum of Artis one of the oldest art museums in the United States and is the largest in the state of Oregon. This museum boasts over 112,000 square feet of gallery space and has a collection of over 40,000 unique works of art including drawings, sketches, paintings, and more.
What makes this one of the best museums in Portland is its individual galleries focuses on different cultures and styles including Native American Art, Northwest Art, Modern and Contemporary Art, Asian Art, and the Northwest Film Center. Admission is $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, and free for anyone under 21. Plus, it’s open Wednesday – Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm.
You can find the Portland Museum of Art at 7 Congress Square, Portland, ME 04101.
2. Oregon Maritime Museum
The Oregon Maritime Museum is housed in an old tugboat, The Portland, which is docked on the Willamette River in Tom McCall Waterfront Park. It’s one of the best museums for those who are interested in learning about nautical history. This floating museum provides a variety of exhibits that tell an important story about Portland’s history as a port city.
The museum gives visitors a first-hand look at what it was like to be at sea aboard an actual vessel. Guided tours are held regularly and take you through the entire ship, explaining the significance of each artifact. The museum is open from 11 am to 4 pm (the last tour starts at 3:15 pm) and tickets are $7, with discounts available for kids and seniors.
You can find the Oregon Maritime Museum at 198 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97204.
3. Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Regarded as one of the nation’s leading science centers, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is one of the best family-friendly attractions in Portland. It has three auditoriums, a giant screen theater, a planetarium, and permanent exhibits on natural science and technology.
One of its biggest attractions is the science playground, which has fun interactive exhibits for kids of all ages. The OMSI is one of the best museums in Portland for discovering the wonders of the natural world and making a great field trip or family outing. It’s open from 9:30 – 5:30 daily and ticket prices vary depending on the exhibit.
You can find the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry at 1945 SE Water Ave, Portland, OR 97214.
4. Oregon Rail Heritage Center
The Oregon Rail Heritage Center is a railroad museum that features three historic steam locomotives; the Southern Pacific 4449, the Spokane, Portland & Seattle 700, and the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Co. 197.
The museum pays homage to the city’s past as an important railroad stop and it’s a must-visit for any train enthusiast. The best part is, the ORHC is free to attend! In terms of hours, they are only open on Saturday and Sunday from 1 pm – 5 pm, so be sure to plan a weekend around this.
You can find the Oregon Rail Heritage Center at 2250 SE Water Ave, Portland, OR 97214.
5. Pittock Mansion
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Pittock Mansion is a historic French Renaissance-style estate located in the Tualatin Mountains, west of Portland. The 46-room estate was originally commissioned by Henry Pittock, the owner of the Oregonian, a local newspaper. Today it’s owned by Portland’s Bureau of Parks and Recreation and it’s open to the public for touring.
The historic home gives viewers a glimpse at how aristocrats of the time lived. The museum is open from 10 am – 4 pm during regular hours and 10 am – 5 pm in the summer. Be mindful though because this spot is closed on Tuesdays. In terms of cost, admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $8 for kids (children under 6 get in free).
You can find the Pittock Mansion at 3229 NW Pittock Dr, Portland, OR 97210.
6. Freakybuttrue Pecularium
The Freakybuttrue Pecularium is a local favorite that is dedicated to the wild and wacky. This gift shop and museum is dedicated to comics, art installations, urban legends, sci-fi, cryptids, and generally anything mysterious. This wild attraction has offered exhibits on everything from Bigfoot to alien autopsies, and hosts frequent events and interactive displays.
Before you go, be considerate of who is going. Although this attraction is very tongue and cheek, there is cartoonish gore that may not be best for those with young children. However, it’s certainly a one-of-a-kind attraction that’s worth checking out if you’re into sci-fi and horror. Plus, it’s only $5 and is open daily from 11 am – 7 pm (Saturday it closes at 6 pm).
You can find the Freakybuttrue Pecularium at 2234 NW Thurman St, Portland, OR 97210.
7. Oregon Historical Society Museum
Interested in learning more about Oregon’s history? Then the Oregon Historical Society Museum is the perfect excursion. Situated in the South Park Blocks area of South Portland, the museum features over 85,000 artifacts relating to the history of the region. Famous artifacts found in the museum include memorabilia from the Lewis and Clark Exposition and the Portland Penny, a copper matron-head coin used to decide the city’s name.
The OHSM is one of the best museums to learn about Portland’s unique history. It also offers an extensive research library with an impressive collection of Oregon-related books, photographs, films, and other media. It’s open from 10 am to 5 pm daily (12 – 5 pm on Sunday) and costs $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $5 for children (kids under six get in free).
You can find the Oregon Historical Society Museum at 1200 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97205.
The city is truly full of heritage and intrigue. So next time you’re bored or looking for something different to do, check out one these amazing museums in Portland.