“Portland's hands on fun!”
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is a scientific, educational, and cultural resource center dedicated to improving the public's understanding of science and technology. OMSI makes science exciting and relevant through exhibits, programs, and experiences that are presented in an entertaining and participatory fashion.
Beginning in 1903, odd artifacts were displayed in hallways and alcoves in Portland City Hall arranged by Colonel L. L. Hawkins. When the collection was evicted in 1936, about 12,000 artifacts were stored throughout the city.
On November 5, 1944, the Oregon Museum Foundation was founded with the mission of establishing an Oregon Museum of History, Science, and Industry. It displayed its first collection of natural history objects at the Portland Hotel. Subsequent small exhibits occurred around town to generate interest and donations. In 1949, a house at 908 NE Hassalo was donated to establish the museum. Within a year, the Pacific Northwest's first public planetarium opened in a dome on the front lawn.
By 1955, OMSI's annual attendance had grown to 25,000. The need for expansion led to volunteers building a new site at Washington Park, completing the original goal of a hands-on museum. (That building is now occupied by the Portland Children's Museum.) This opened to the public on August 3, 1958, following a formal dedication by the governor on June 7. A planetarium was again included. The new building at the southwest corner of what was then Hoyt Park (now part of Washington Park) was located adjacent to the then-new site of the Portland Zoo (now the Oregon Zoo), which began a one-year phased move in the same month as the new OMSI opened. The two attractions remained neighbors, sharing a parking lot, until 1992.
By the mid-1980s, 600,000 people per year were visiting the building, which was designed for only 100,000. Expansion at the Washington Park site was deemed infeasible, and in 1986 it was announced that the museum would move to a new location on the east bank of the Willamette River, where a much larger building would be constructed. Property that included the historic Station L power plant was donated by Portland General Electric, and building construction was paid for by a fundraising campaign. In 1992, OMSI opened at the new site, which continues to be the current location. The construction integrated the existing PGE turbine building and included the creation of a 330-seat OMNIMAX theater. The facility also includes a 200-seat planetarium with Digistar 3 technology.
In 2004 the Turbine Hall was closed from September through November for renovations in which the Discovery Space and Technology Lab changed places and a new Inventors Ballroom was added. Also added were a small stage area for public exhibit demonstrations and a bridge connecting a new metal staircase with the mezzanine exhibits.
The museum started planning for an expansion of the facility in 2006. In 2008, OMSI began finalizing the plans for the expansion, which was estimated to cost about $500 million and would double the size of the museum. They began working to secure the funds for the expansion the next year, but decided to hold off on the plans in 2010 after the poor economy had made it difficult to try and raise funds for the project.
The OMNIMAX dome theater closed in September 2013 for conversion into a conventional flat-screen movie theater that is not IMAX but still has an extra-large screen, about four stories tall. Renamed the Empirical Theater, it reopened in December 2013.
OMSI is an incredible Science Museum for kids - with 5 huge halls of hands on activities, an incredible organic kitchen replete with brick oven pizza, an IMAX 3D cinema and rotating exhibits which our little family have thoroughly enjoyed. The highlights would have to be the recent Sherlock Holmes exhibit, Mummies of the world and Dinosaurs. All were incredible. The building sits on the edge of the river overlooking the city. Our kids absolutely love this place - and so do I.
OMSI rules. I felt like a kid again at this place. Tons of really cool hands on exhibits and just so many great things to see. Perfect spot to bring the family or really any tourist who loves science. My favorite part is they do a laser light show with Pink Floyd as the soundtrack!
So much cool stuff to see and do at this hands-on museum! The kids will get the most out of it, but it's truly a fun place for all ages. They have events geared toward adults sometimes called OMSI After Dark.
My husband and I took our 7 year old and 3 year old here. I am not sure who loved it more, them or us! This is a must do if you are in Portland. There are tons of hands on learning opportunities that teach young and old alike. This is a fabulous way to get kids interested in science and STEM based careers! We saw the Art of Brick exhibit which was phenomenal. If you need to choose between some of the more expensive museums in the area choose this one!
Great for our kids ages 8 and 12. We spent 2 hours there including a half hour planetarium show, but could have stayed longer if we had time. They have a sub tour we wanted to take which is another 1.5 hours. Go!
I loved OMSI when I went for a film and the GAME ON installation. It was an absolute blast. I had been there other time with children and it was fun for them mostly but this time it was fun for me! I played a connect four like game with robotic arms, and really just enjoyed the entire place.
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Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
- Sun - Sat: 9:30 am - 7:00 pm
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