Five Central Oregon museums worth checking out

Five Central Oregon museums worth checking out

Today May 18th is International Museum Day, a day aimed to raise awareness about museums as an important avenue to learn more about other cultures. BendBroadband, a TDS company, is dedicated to building a diverse and inclusive culture and recognizes the importance of museums in achieving these overarching goals.

Here are five museums worth visiting in the BendBroadband communities throughout Central Oregon.

A.R. Bowman Museum, Prineville
The A.R. Bowman Museum, ran by the Crook County Historical Society since 1971, highlights the history of Central Oregon. Its collection includes an array of pioneer artifacts, a popular railroad exhibit, ranching and timber industry displays, old furniture, garments, and historic photographs of the area. In addition to hosting students and visitors, the museum publishes books and field guides, presents a lecture series, conducts historical field trips, and virtually shares its collection with other museums and libraries throughout the world.

The museum is named after Arthur Ray Bowman, a Prineville businessman and civic leader who donated the Crook County Bank building to the historical society to use as the museum site in 1971.

Deschutes Historical Museum, Bend
The National Historic Site of Reid School was built in 1914 and designed by Sweatt, Levesque and Co., Spokane. The school was Bend’s first modern school building and serves today as the Museum for the Deschutes County Historical Society.

The museum features exhibits, artifacts, and antiques that help explain topics like Deschutes County prehistory, the area’s Native American tribal history, early exploration and fur trapping, settling the high desert, logging and U.S. Forest Service history, and life throughout the county.

For just $5, support the Deschutes County Historical Society by streaming the museum’s new documentary—Let There Be Light: A History of Bend’s Water Pageant. The film focuses on a floating 4th of July parade on Mirror Pond that drew thousands of people to Drake Park in downtown Bend from 1933 to 1965.

Erickson Aircraft Collection, Madras
Jack Axel Erickson, the founder of Portland-based aviation company Erickson Inc., was born in Portland in 1935. His vintage aircraft collection, now located in Madras, is complete with over 20 rare models still in flying condition. Some of these vintage crafts include the P-38 Lightning, P-51 Mustang, Ki43 Hayabusa, F4U Corsair, SBD Dauntless, Grumman Duck, and Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk.

It is recognized as one of the top privately-owned aircraft collections in the world.

High Desert Museum, Bend
The Oregon high desert is a region located east of the Cascade Range and South of the Blue Mountains. The High Desert Museum (HDM) rests on a 135-acre campus with over 100,000 square feet of beautiful exhibit space with galleries, long interpretative paths, and an expansive forest. The goal of the HDM is to share the stories and histories of the High Desert’s inhabitants through its combination of permanent and ever-changing exhibits, which simultaneously blend the natural world and cultural history of the area. The exhibits also show the ways people relied on the High Desert’s natural resources, thus shaping the region over time. The museum never gets stale, as roughly 12 exhibits are added each year.

On April 8, the federal institute of Museum and Library Services announced the HDM as one of 30 finalists for the 2021 National Medal—an award considered the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries. For more than 25 years, the award has recognized institutions that demonstrate excellence in service to their communities. The nonprofit supports the Bend community in countless ways, highlighted by the countless education opportunities it provides to local youth.

Petersen Rock Garden & Museum, Redmond
Located between the cities of Redmond and Bend, the Petersen Rock Garden and its museum showcase the handiwork of Rasmus Petersen—a Danish immigrant who settled in Central Oregon in the early 20th century. When he settled in the 1930s, the Dane began constructing the garden with rocks he collected within an 85-mile radius of his family’s home—including agate, jasper, malachite, obsidian, petrified wood, thundereggs, and various other crystals, fossils, and gemstones.

Some of the projects Peterson constructed at this site, now found on the National Register of Historic Places, include detailed miniature castles, churches, bridges, water features, and other small buildings and structures. At the museum, explore rare geodes, agates, fossils, and more.

By Garrett Seymour, Brand Journalist






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