High Desert Museum
|Location||Bend, Oregon, U.S.A.|
|Visitors||150,000 per year|
|Website||High Desert Museum|
The High Desert Museum is located near Bend, Oregon, United States. Opened in 1982, it brings regional wildlife, culture, art and natural resources together to promote an understanding of natural and cultural heritage of North America's high desert country. The museum uses indoor and outdoor exhibits, wildlife in natural-like habitats, and living history demonstrations to help people discover and appreciate the high desert environment. The museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
The museum was founded by Donald M. Kerr, a native of Portland, Oregon. Kerr had a passion for natural history that inspired a lifelong interest in environmental issues, especially the protection of native animals. In 1974, Kerr established the Western Natural History Institute, and the High Desert Museum was an outgrowth of the institute opening in 1982. The museum was originally called the Oregon High Desert Museum; however, the name was later changed to recognize the regional nature of the high desert environment it highlights.
In 1989, the main building was expanded with a 28,000-square-foot (2,600 m2) addition, with the museum's attendance reaching 100,000 per year. The $5 million expansion, a gift from the Chiles Foundation, added the Earle A. Chiles Center on the Spirit of the West. In 1994, a five-year expansion campaign began to increase the size of the museum. By 2002, the non-profit museum drew 155,000 visitors per year. In 2008, Janeanne A. Upp became the president of the museum.
The High Desert Museum sits on 135 acres (0.55 km2) of pine covered forest land in Central Oregon. South of Bend on U.S. Route 97, the museum includes various indoor and outdoor exhibits, a library, a desertarium, and a cafe. Portland's GHA Architects designed the original museum building. That structure contains slate flooring and walls built from volcanic rocks. The outdoor exhibits and various buildings are connected by a half-mile long paved path.
The entrance lobby is known as Schnitzer Hall. Visitors passing through the lobby can walk straight ahead into the Collins Gallery and museum gift shop or proceed to exhibits down corridors to the right or left. To the right of the main lobby is the Earle A. Chiles Center on the Spirit of the West and separate galleries for special traveling exhibits. To the left of the entrance is the Henry J. Casey Hall of Plateau Indians. The cafeteria is located beyond the Collins Gallery next to the gift shop. There is also a classroom located in this area of the building. Through the Collins Gallery to the left is an indoor desertarium with living desert animals on display. The exit at the far end of the desertarium leads to the Donald M Kerr Birds of Prey Center and the museum's outdoor exhibits.
The museum has in excess of 18,500 artifacts in its collections. Artwork includes works from Edward Curtis, Edward Borein, Charles Marion Russell, Philip Hyde (photographer) and Alfred Jacob Miller among others. Historical artifacts include those of Native American origin and post Euro-American settlement of the region. Many of the Native American items are from the Doris Swayze Bounds Collection of American Indian Art and Artifacts, and the Doris Bounds Swayze collection.
Exhibits focus on local culture, natural resources, wildlife, and art. The museum's indoor and outdoor exhibits of Native American, pioneer, and animal life are presented on a massive scale. A visitor can actually walk through an early 1860s town complete with blacksmith shop, Chinese mercantile, and stage coach stop. The Native American exhibit covers life on the land before the white man, life on a reservation, and the present day hot topic of Indian Casinos. There is also an impressive exhibit of Native American horse tack used for the Pendleton Round-Up that is unmatched for its craftsmanship, beauty, and individuality of design.
The High Desert Museum has a 53,000-square-foot (4,900 m2) main building. Exhibits include a Forest Service fire truck, a stage coach, and a number of Native American history displays. The museum's Hall of Exploration and Settlement has displays highlighting a hundred years of high desert history. Scenes include a trapper's camp, survey party's camp, pioneer wagon train, a mining claim, an early western boomtown, and a high desert buckaroo camp.
Outside the museum building a quarter-mile trail follows a forest stream lined with aspens and ponderosa pines. Along the way visitors can stop at a number of exhibits and animal habitats. There is a total of 32,000 square feet (3,000 m2) of outdoor exhibits and animal habitats. The popular outdoor exhibits feature a river otter, a porcupine, sheep, grey fox, and birds of prey. There is also a Native American encampment, a start-of-the-20th-century sawmill, logging equipment, homesteaders cabin, and a forestry pavilion.
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- "About the Museum: Mission, Purpose, History", High Desert Museum, www.highdesertmuseum.org, Bend, Oregon, 2008.
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- "Exhibits", High Desert Museum, www.highdesertmuseum.org, Bend, Oregon, 2008.
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