United States

10 Exhibitions Not to Miss in Oregon this Summer

by Paul Joseph  |  Published June 17, 2021

Home to Native American tribes for 10,000 years, Oregon is teeming with history and culture – much of which is explored at several museums hosting some great exhibitions this summer

(Photo: Portland Art Museum)

Founded in 1859, the US state of Oregon in the Pacific Northwest is renowned for its wild west past along with a number of enduring modern day traditions. This harmonious fusion of past and present has given rise to a rich and diverse cultural scene, with a huge number of museums scattered across the state. Below are 10 of the best museum exhibitions taking place in Oregon during the summer months of 2021.

Ansel Adams in Our Time

Over the last half century, the photographs of Ansel Adams have become visual embodiments of the sites he captured: Yosemite and Yellowstone national parks, the Sierra Nevada, the American Southwest, and more. Combining technical mastery with a modernist’s sensibility, his works betray his deep connection to the natural environment. This exhibition features more than 100 of Adams’s works in a new, dual conversation: with the nineteenth-century photographers who preceded him in the American West; and with photographers working today, drawn to some of the same places and tackling some of the same issues affecting the land – mining and energy, drought and fire, economic booms and busts, protected places and urban sprawl.

Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Avenue, Portland / Through 1 August 2021

Of Fabric and Flow – The Dance of Dressing in India

(Photo: Favell Museum)

Featuring a unique presentation of photographs by noted Klamath Falls photographer Madeleine Graham Blake, printed, unusually, on silk and aluminum, this exhibition is the culmination of three years spent by the artist in Varanasi, India, photographing people in traditional clothing. The images show people putting on clothing, including traditional saris and dhotis, a skirt-like item worn by men, and langots, sometimes used as an undergarment but also the official attire of wrestlers, as well as a headwrap called a pagadis. The exhibition also explores various taboos, in particular those surrounding the photographing of women.

Favell Museum,  125 West Main Street, Klamath Falls / 12 June-21 August 2021

We Were / We Will Be

Experience the storied past, rich present, and bright future of the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla Tribes at Tamástslikt Cultural Institute this summer. Visitors first enter “We Were”, where the four seasons are presented as periods of harvesting, processing, and manufacturing. Next, the extent of trade prior to the arrival of non-Indians is revealed. The first sign of the new immigrants comes with the exhibits about the fur traders, missionaries, and settlers. More stories of disruption, war, forced treaties and boarding schools, and the parceling away of reservation land follow. Finally, in “We Will Be”, Tribal members young and old speak on video about their hopes and plans for a future that holds up the continuum of their unique culture.

Tamástslikt Cultural Institute, 47106 Wildhorse Boulevard, Pendleton / Permanent

Racing to Change

Chronicling the civil rights movement in Eugene, Oregon, during the 1960s and 1970s, this exhibition centres on what was a time of great upheaval, conflict, and celebration as new voices clashed with traditional organisations of power. Through photographs, recorded interviews, and historical archives, the exhibit illuminates legacies of racism and the unceasing efforts of Oregon’s Black communities to bring about change. First hand accounts from movement organisers, former UO students, elected officials, and other members of Oregon’s Black communities paint a vivid picture of the area’s past, and urge us to take part in building a more just future.

Museum of Natural and Cultural History, University of Oregon, 1680 East 15th Avenue, Eugene / Through Summer 2021

(Photo: Museum of Natural and Cultural History)

We are the Rose City! A History of Soccer in Portland

(Photo: Oregon Historical Society Museum)

From the athletes, to the fans, to the many events that have shaped “Soccer City,” this exhibition explores the history of professional soccer in Portland and the cultural context of the game, centring on the Portland Timbers and their army of dedicated supporters. Through storytelling and rare objects loaned by the clubs and fans, visitors will learn about the many milestones in the club’s 45- years professional soccer history. Highlights include nearly 300 elaborately-designed hanging scarves, a ball from the Timbers’ 2015 championship game autographed by the club’s legendary Argentine attacking midfielder Diego Valeri, and a photo op with a chainsaw on loan from much-loved club mascot Timber Joey.

Oregon Historical Society Museum, 1200 SW Park Avenue, Portland / 24 July-26 September 2021

Not Fit To Be At Large:  Women at OSH 

In 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified giving women across the United States the right to vote. This was more than just a vote, it was one step along the path of gaining equal rights. This exhibition explores the experiences of women at the Oregon State Hospital from its opening in 1883 to 1920. Looking through the lens of this time period, it delves into the significance women’s suffrage had on women in and outside of the hospital, featuring stories from various women who were committed here, what their treatment was like, and how their gender might have played a role in their care.

OSH Musuem of Mental Health, 2669, 2600 Center Street NE, Salem / Through summer 2021

Cosmic Microscapes: Seeing Into Rocks from Oregon and Space

(Photo: High Desert Museum)

This unique exhibition marries art and science to reveal the dazzling abstract beauty of meteorites,  presenting fine art imagery of igneous rocks from four sites in the Northwest and elsewhere in our solar system, along with scientific captions detailing their origins, mineral composition and structure. University of Washington geochemist and meteoricist Dr. Tony Irving and photographer Neil Buckland combined forces to create extreme macroscopic, panoramic photographs of meteorite slices just 30 microns thick. As well as these photographic prints – said to be the largest ever made from petrographic thin sections – some of the actual rocks themselves, including lunar and Martian samples, are also on display.

High Desert Museum, 59800 US-97, Bend / Through 18 July 2021

Nkame: A Retrospective of Cuban Printmaker Belkis Ayón

This solo exhibition dedicated to the work of the late Cuban printmaker Belkis Ayón presents almost 50 prints and audiovisual materials that encompass a wide range of the artist’s graphic production from 1986 until her untimely passing in 1999. During her short but prolific career, she produced an extraordinary body of work central to the history of contemporary printmaking in Cuba and abroad, mining the founding narrative of the Afro-Cuban all-male fraternal society called Abakuá Secret Society to create an independent and powerful visual iconography. She also became highly regarded for her signature technique of collagraphy, a printing process in which a variety of materials are collaged onto a cardboard matrix and run through a press.

Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, 1430 Johnson Lane, Eugene / Through 5 September 2021


This exhibition delves into the majesty and wonder of a group of species that lived between the Late Triassic through the Late Cretaceous Periods (228 to 66 million years ago) of the Mesozoic Era. It features models, fossil replicas and digital interactive stations showcasing the evolution, diversity, and lifestyle of this intriguing group of species. Highlights include the chance to help a Pterosaur hunt, compare your wingspan with other animals, view a 3D hologram of a Pterosaur take-off, and plenty more.

ScienceWorks, 1500 East Main Street, Ashland / Summer 2021

 Upon Thy Gates, The Elaine K. and Norman Winik Mezuzah Collection

(Photo: Oregon Jewish Museum )

Placing a mezuzah on the doorpost is among the most ancient of Jewish traditions, its appearance signalling that the space within is a Jewish household or institution. Elaine and Norman Winik collected mezuzahs throughout their numerous visits to Israel and other Jewish communities and bequeathed their vast collection of 169 mezuzahs to the museum back in 2017. This exhibition – first held in 2018 and now redesigned for a new travelling exhibit  – showcases many of them, highlighting the diverse range of styles, materials, and symbolism in mezuzahs from around the world.

Oregon Jewish Museum, 724 NW Davis Street, Portland / 23 June – 26 September 2021