Oregon Historical Society reopens days after riot destruction

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Historical Society will reopen on Wednesday after rioters vandalized the building on Sunday.

Despite all the destruction from Sunday night’s “Day of Rage” riot, officials with the OHS tell us they are still planning on reopening as they planned. While the building is currently boarded up due to the extensive damage to the windows at the front entrance, visitors can still safely enter.

Oregon Historical Society Executive Director Kerry Tymchuck says their exhibits — like Experience Oregon — are proof they understand the significance of telling Oregon’s truth by incorporating all voices.

“We worked very closely with tribes, the nine federally recognized tribes in Oregon,” Tymchuck said. “We wanted to make sure we were telling their stories honorably and correctly.”

The exhibits also show the good, the bad and the ugly of the state’s history.

“Certainly one of the most disturbing artifacts is this — a Klu Klux Klan hood [from] Oregon in the 1920s,” he said. “There were some 35,000 KKK members.”

One artifact you’ll no longer see on your visit is this Afro-American Heritage bicentennial commemorative quilt — which was taken and damaged during the riot.

The 1970s quilt was sewn by 15 black women from Portland who entrusted it to the museum’s care. It will no longer be on display this month — as crews work to restore it.

It’s hard to ignore the irony that this institution — which shares the history of Oregon’s Indigenous people, works to highlight the Black experience and reveals the state’s history of white supremacy — would be a victim of vandalism among these months-long protests.

Since the damage was done, OHS says they’ve been thankful for the community’s support in the form of calls, emails, visits and donations.

“That fact that we were attacked seems especially ironic, but what has been so heartwarming has been the outpouring of support that has come way these past few days,” Tymchuck said.

The generous words and donations will help sustain their continued pursuit of truth and education.

The current museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. On Sunday, the building is open from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information on the Oregon Historical Society, visit their website.

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