Exhibitions

Art. History. Culture. Wildlife.

The Museum tells the stories of the High Desert’s diverse people and places through ever-changing exhibitions and permanent ones. The High Desert Museum sits on a 135-acre campus and more than 100,000 square feet of exhibit space that includes multiple galleries, winding interpretative paths, and an expansive forest. Exhibits blend the natural world and cultural history, highlighting the ways that people have drawn on the High Desert’s resources and shaped the region over time. Learn more about the exhibits during our daily programs or sign up for an art workshop, special event, lecture or educational program associated with one of the exhibits.

There is always something new to see at the High Desert Museum with up to 12 new exhibits every year!

CHANGING EXHIBITS

Animal Journeys: Navigating in Nature
September 8, 2018 – July 14, 2019

The navigational feats performed by wildlife—whether as part of their daily, local activities or long-distance migrations—are arguably some of the natural world’s most awe-inspiring phenomena. The tiny rufous hummingbird, for example, deftly finds its way from wintering grounds in Mexico and the southern United States to its breeding grounds in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. […]

By Her Hand: Native American Women, Their Art, and the Photographs of Edward S. Curtis
September 22, 2018 – January 20, 2019

Over the decades, photographer Edward Curtis’s sepia-toned prints of Native people have shaped the ways that many non-Native people think about American Indians and the American West. At the start of the 20th century, amid changes brought about by industrialization and the forced removal of American Indians to reservations, Curtis undertook the enormous project of […]

High Desert Dreams: The Lost Homesteads of the Fort Rock Basin
May 12 – October 14, 2018

Pioneers arrived by the hundreds in the early 1900s with dreams of free land and fresh starts. They didn’t expect the extreme climate that caused them to abandon their homes within 10 years.

PERMANENT INDOOR EXHIBITS

Desertarium

Meet some creatures of the High Desert in our Desertarium. Despite harsh conditions, the High Desert is teeming with life. Lizards, snakes and tortoises are well equipped for the dry climate and sandy soil, and where there’s water, there are turtles, frogs, salamanders and many species of fish.

Spirit of the West

Spirit of the West offers an unforgettable walk through time. Your journey starts with a stroll past a Northern Paiute shelter and a fur trapper’s camp where all the historical details are depicted in incredible detail. Continue through the Hudson’s Bay Company fort, alongside an Oregon Trail wagon, through a hard rock mine, past a […]

By Hand Through Memory

By Hand Through Memory will take you through the little known journey of the Plateau Indian Nations as they traveled from reservation confinement to the 21st century. This immersive exhibit highlights the experiences of Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs, Yakama, Spokane and Colville people.

Bobcat

While bobcats are endemic to the High Desert, they are rarely encountered. They can thrive in woodlands and drier desert landscapes, and having a bobcat allows visitors to connect and learn how it can adapt to different habitats, including those inhabited by humans.

Porcupines

Honeysuckle, Juniper and Tumbleweed are a family of porcupines who live at the museum. Tumbleweed is a male porcupine who stars in our summer Desert Dwellers program. His mother, Honeysuckle, and his sister, Juniper, are females housed together in our natural habitat exhibit located in the Schnitzer Entrance Hall, just inside the Museum doors.

Blanket Stories: Works Progress, Talking Stick, Steward

Blanket Stories: Talking Stick, Works Progress, Steward was created by Portland-based artist Marie Watt for the Museum’s 2016 exhibition Art for a Nation: Inspiration from the Great Depression. In the spirit of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Museum commissioned Watt to create two sculptures for the exhibition: one from wood and one from blankets.

PERMANENT OUTDOOR EXHIBITS

Miller Family Ranch

Stop by and see what life was like for local homesteaders more than a hundred years ago. Mrs. Miller will get your kids to do the chores they may refuse to do at home: digging in the garden, washing the laundry, or cross-cutting firewood. And when they’re finished, they can enjoy playing some frontier games. […]

Autzen Otter Exhibit

The Autzen Otter Exhibit is located outdoors and includes both outdoor and indoor viewing areas. Recently renovated, the outdoor glass walls provide great viewing for kids and those in wheelchairs to watch the otters.

Donald M Kerr Birds of Prey Center

Get a close-up look at some of nature’s most spectacular predators – owls, hawks, eagles, falcons and even vultures. There are Charisma and Kokanee the bald eagles, Nicholas the golden eagle, Luna the great horned owl and more.

Lazinka Sawmill

Authentic 1904 sawmill. See an authentic sawmill that was used at the turn of the 20th century to process wood with an enormous blade slicing through thick Oregon timber.

High Desert Ranger Station

One of the first things you see when you enter the Museum grounds is a little white building with a green roof. It’s an authentic forest ranger office from the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, built in 1933.

Changing Forest

The High Desert region is a complex landscape that features more than just sagebrush. This exhibit explains the role of forests and their dynamic nature in an arid environment. Learn about nutrient cycles, soils, impacts, wildlife and the influences of the dynamic trio: water, sunlight and air in the life cycle of a changing forest.