Where to See Native American Art, Artifacts & Cultural Displays
Because Pacific Northwest Native Americans enjoyed abundant resources, they were able to develop a rich culture, including a diverse body of art.
From intricately woven baskets to elaborately decorated clothing, carvings, ceremonial objects, and totem poles, much has been preserved. The following museums feature large displays of Native American artifacts, some dating back 15,000 years. Some also feature work by contemporary Native American artists and craftsmen.
The Museum at Warm Springs
2189 highway 26
A museum created by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, this 25,000 square-foot museum is acclaimed for both its architecture and exhibits. Tribal history is told through multi-media, interactive exhibits that include artifact displays, photographs, graphics, and rare documents. Highlights include a tribal wedding, song chamber, and traditional Hoop Dance.
A tule mat lodge, wickiup, and plank house – traditional dwellings of the Warm Springs, Wasco, and Paiute tribes — have been reconstructed on site. Summer months bring demonstrations and performances that including drumming, dancing, storytelling, beadwork, and weaving.
Rotating exhibits offer a continuing view of Native American culture. The grounds include a walking trail, picnic area, and amphitheater. A gift shop has a large selection of traditional tribal crafts.
- Hours: Summer – Daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m; Winter – Closed Monday and Tuesday
University of Oregon Museum of Natural History
1680 E. 15th Ave., Eugene
The university calls its collection of Native American cultural and archaeological artifacts one of Oregon’s most significant. Displays span 15,000 years of human settlement in the region. Highlights include a collection of 10,000-year-old sagebrush bark sandals and hundreds of western Indian baskets. University archeological projects continue to add to the collections.
In addition to Native American exhibits, the museum houses an extensive fossil collection and objects from the cultures and technologies of Southeast Asia, the Philippines, Oceania, and Africa.
- Admission is $3 ($2 for seniors and youth). Families of up to 6 pay $8 total.
- Admission is free each Wednesday.
- Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Wednesday – Sunday
Oregon History Museum
(Oregon Historical Society)
1200 SW Park Ave., Portland
The Native American collections here are extensive and include a large display of rare baskets. Displays include village life, clothing, carvings, and other art objects, and historic photographs. On the outdoor terrace is a stunning full-size totem pole.
Other exhibits in the museum tell the story of the European settlement of Oregon including, pioneer life, and fishing, agriculture, and industrial development told through interpretive and interactive displays, artifacts, audio-visual presentations, photos and documents. Traveling exhibits rotate regularly.
The History Museum and the Portland Art Museum, below, are located in Portland’s Cultural District.
- Admission is $10 with discounts for students, youth, and seniors. Children under 5 are free.
- Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday; Noon – 5 p.m. Sunday
Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park Avenue, Portland
This world-class museum of international, national, and regional art has a large exhibit of Native American items. Displays include more than 5,000 prehistoric and historic pieces, many rarely seen. Also exhibited are works by modern Native American masters.
- Admission is $10 with discounts for seniors and youth.
- Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday; 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday; Noon – 5 p.m. Sunday
High Desert Museum
59800 S. Highway 97, Bend
All aspects of the high desert area of Central Oregon are on display here. But those seeking a view of Native American life and history can head to the acclaimed Henry J. Casey Hall of Plateau Indians for an impressive exhibit of Indian culture and art from before European settlement up to the present.
Other displays of the museum focus on the natural history of the high desert, European pioneer settlement, early ranching and industry and the region’s ecology. The museum sits on 135 forested acres with walking trails and a wildlife area.
- Admission prices are available by calling the museum.
- Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily
Whether new or well-seasoned in the appreciation of Native American art and culture, visitors to these museums will find a satisfying experience awaiting them.