Portland Children’s Museum, Opal School to permanently close

Multnomah County

Board members said the pandemic negatively impacted a 'funding model that is largely reliant on paid admissions to the interactive museum'

The Portland Children’s Museum in Washington Park. (Portland Children’s Museum via Google Maps)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland Children’s Museum will permanently close this summer after 75 years. Directors said the museum suffered devastating attendance and revenue losses brought on by the pandemic.

The board voted to close the museum, along with Opal School, after reaching the conclusion that meeting new cleaning protocols and state guidelines on limited capacity, along with the need to refill nearly 50 staff positions due to layoffs, was not financially possible.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision for the board. We’ve all experienced so many wonderful memories at the Museum with our loved ones, and we are forever grateful to the vibrant community of play that the Museum and Opal School have cultivated during these last 75 years,” said David Peterson, Board Chair of the Museum. “Its lasting impact will live on through the creativity of countless families, children, educators, artists and musicians who called Portland Children’s Museum and Opal School their second home.”

This year marks the Portland Children’s Museum’s 75th anniversary and Opal School’s 20th anniversary. The museum gave kids the chance to problem-solve and strengthen their relationships with the world around them through play. The organization said 4.8 million people visited the museum throughout its lifetime, many of whom first visited as children and later returned as parents or grandparents.

Opal School was the first charter school authorized by Portland Public Schools. It served more than 500 students and 10,000 educators, who have reportedly reached 1 million children locally and globally.

“The closure of a children’s museum is devastating to the social fabric of a community, and the loss of Portland Children’s Museum will be felt for years to come,” said Laura Huerta Migus, Executive Director, Association of Children’s Museums. 

Staff at the museum will work to close the organization over the next few months and donate supplies to local nonprofits.

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