Where We Live: ‘Experience Oregon’

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A Native American worker. (Oregon Historical Society) 

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — On Feb. 14, 2019, we celebrated Oregon’s 160th birthday. Oregon became a state on Valentine’s Day in 1859 and its amazing story is told in an ambitious exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society.

The “Experience Oregon” journey starts in a panoramic theater telling Oregon’s story — before and after the pioneers.

“It’s stories — dramatic victories and defeats, life and death — it’s the story of people,” Oregon Historical Society executive director Kerry Tymchuk said.

The $4 million, 7,000-square-foot “Experience Oregon” exhibit features 500 artifacts — some hundreds of years old — to tell the story: the good, the bad and the ugly.

More about “Experience Oregon”

“As in dealing with the Native Americans, in dealing with minority populations,” Tymchuk said. 

There are hands-on experiences and interactive games to teach people how we got here.

Watch: Experience Oregon through games 

Pieces of Oregon history include a frying pan and sewing kit that actually traveled with the Lewis and Clark Expedition. 

The Benson — Oregon's first car. (Oregon Historical Society) 

Plus, important Oregon milestones from the Historical Society’s vast collection.

“The Benson — the first car in Oregon, a fellow built in his garage in the early 1900s,” Tymchuk said. 

There’s even a covered wagon that traveled on the Oregon Trail, rifles that belonged to pioneer Joseph Meek and a 100-year-old cedar canoe that the Chinooks call “The Ancestor” because of its perfect design and build.

“So they’ve come and studied it, they’ve measured it and they have created what they call the descendants of this canoe,” museum director Helen B. Louise said. 

In every corner, there’s something new or surprising. Something you didn’t know about Oregon.

“Experience Oregon” is a permanent exhibit but the Oregon Historical Society said it will always be updated, adding new pieces from the 85,000 artifacts in its collection. 

Visit the Oregon Historical Society 

Native Americans celebrate Celilo Falls fishing agreement. (Oregon Historical Society)

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