8 Unusual Museums in Portland

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Published Jul 10, 2017

Willing to explore some unusual museums with your family in Portland city..

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Tired of the USUAL? Here is the list of "one of a kind" museums in Portland which can provide an entirely different but fun experience for you & your family.

1. World Forestry Center Discovery Museum

This museum is located in Portland’s beautiful Washington Park & covers an area of 20,000 square foot

Built in dramatic Cascadian style architecture, the stunning Discovery Museum has been a Portland icon since 1971. Visitors can take a wet-free raft ride, see the forest from a bird’s-eye-view, learn about different people who work in the forest, and “travel” to Russia, China, South Africa and Brazil to discover how those regions are utilizing their forests and the challenges they face.

The 1st floor of the museum focuses on forests of the Pacific Northwest and the role they play in providing habitat, water, recreation, wood, and a multitude of other benefits. The Forest Store also provides guests with unique gift and souvenir options, many made in Oregon.

2. Portland Police Museum

The Portland Police Museum features permanent and rotating exhibits. Permanent exhibits include:

  • Early arrest records
  • Meeting notes from the First Meeting of the Police Commission, 1870
  • Historic photos
  • Historic badge, patch, uniform and firearms collections
  • Photos of City Marshals and Chiefs of Police
  • Old jail cell


3. Hat Museum

The Hat museum has an extensive collection of the most characteristic styles of past eras--hats dating back to 1820! 

Hats from Hollywood movies, famous designer hats, novelty and military hats. One of Oregon's most unusual historic Edwardian houses, the Ladd-Reingold House, has a 100+ year old legacy of milliners and hat fanciers! Rare men's and women's hats.

They have 4 fabulous collections of hats-

1. Antique and vintage hats
From 1820 to present day women's hats in a house that has a legacy of hat makers! Learn historical facts about hats, origins, lore and hats in language.
2. Men's hats
From a rare straw top hat to beaver felt cowboy hats, an unusual cross section of hats from the heads of men--includes military hats!

3. Novelty and costume hats
A giant tea cup, a salmon, a table, a parrot--yep, they're ALL hats! Hats that do "tricks"! Hats that fold, hats that sing, hats do more than hide rabbits!

4. Today's Fabulous Hats
Stunning tea hats, retro creations and what's new for today's hat fancier!

4. Stark's Vacuum Museum

The Stark’s Vacuum Museum is a one of its kind! Renovated in 2017, the Museum boasts more than just old vacuums, it contains three different timelines all integrated into one display. Included is a vacuum history timeline; they display 25 of the most iconic and loved vacuums in history. One can learn the history of the vacuum cleaner and its progression from the beginning.

The walls of a long, well-lit room are stacked with models of vacuums, from durable wooden devices made in the 1800s to chic, space-age cleaners from the 1960s. 

5. Kidd's Toy Museum

Featuring Frank Kidd’s toy collection, the Kidd Toy museum showcases his lifetime collection, which started with vehicular toys and has expanded to include toys of all kinds: mechanical and still banks; trains, planes and automobiles; character toys; police badges; railroad locks, lanterns and related items; and early Oregon memorabilia of all kinds. His collection has been supplemented by the collection his wife, Joyce, who collects teddy bears, dolls and holiday collectibles.

Today, the collection consists mainly of toys from 1869 to 1939, but includes a generous display of later die-cast vehicles. For local interest, banks, signs, trays and other items pertaining to the Northwest are included.

The heart of Mr. Kidd’s collection are his mechanical banks, one of the finest in existence. You will see several patent office models, wooden, lead and brass patterns for banks and other toys, and selections of original sand-casting molds for the toys.


6. The Lincoln Street Kayak & Canoe Museum

The Lincoln Street Kayak and Canoe Museum (LSKCM) is dedicated to presenting a diverse variety of indigenous small watercraft forms in a contextual and educational setting. Each form represented here reflects centuries or millennia of development influenced by cultural tradition, environment, external pressures, resources, function, practicality, and aesthetics. Despite their broad variation in shape, construction and use, each vessel is a proven design that served the designer/builder/user's needs, aiding them successfully in hunting, fishing, migrating, trading, and for general navigation. Perhaps no single object created by genus Homo better represents our ancestors' ingenuity, survival instinct, and desire for exploration than the canoe. Today, the canoe remains a powerful symbol and metaphor for individualism and adventure and is among the few objects aiding human transportation that is still created by hand in a non-mass-production context.

The bulk of the LSKCM's watercraft collection is made of full-sized functional replicas of traditional Arctic hunting kayaks. Harvey Golden built these replicas in order to compliment his museum studies with an element of experimental research. These vessels are the largest and most complete assembly of pan-arctic kayak forms in the world. 

7. Portland Puppet Museum

Portland Puppet Museum is your place to learn all things about Puppets. and let loose your inner child.

Started in August 27, 2011, the museum exhibits on worldwide puppetry, Live puppet shows, workshops and kids hands on area. They have puppet building classes as well.

Under the creative direction of Steven M. Overton and Martin Richmond, the Olde World Puppet Theatre Studios is one of the longest running marionette theatres and puppet building companies in the United States.

8. RICE Museum of Rocks & Minerals

The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals houses a world-class collection recognized as the finest in the Pacific Northwest and one of the best in the nation.

the Museum showcases not only fine rocks and minerals, but also fossils, meteorites, lapidary art, and gemstones from both the Pacific Northwest and all around the world.

The Museum is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places for its unique architectural style, natural stonework, and the extraordinary native Oregon woodwork found throughout the building.


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Written by Neha Dubey

An immigrant to Canada and one of the new additions to the ChatterBlock family.

I enjoy travelling, watching movies and eating desserts :-P

You can get in touch with me at neha.dubey@chatterblock.com.

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