About OMSI

Our Mission

Inspire curiosity through engaging science learning experiences, foster experimentation and the exchange of ideas, and stimulate informed action.

OMSI is an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and relies on admissions, memberships, and donations to continue our educational mission, programs, and exhibits.


Our Vision

OMSI, collaborating with partners, will ignite an education transformation at the intersection of science, technology and design, and weave a thriving innovation district into the fabric of Portland, that spreads opportunities across the Northwest.

Executive Team

Nancy Stueber PRESIDENT
Paul Carlson SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT
Erin Graham VP, DEVELOPMENT
Jamie Hurd VP, PROGRAMS
Kevin Kearns VP, EXHIBITS
Tim Mack VP, FINANCE & ADMINISTRATION
Mark Patel VP, MARKETING & RETAIL

Our History

The concept of OMSI was born more than 100 years ago in the mind of a famed naturalist, John Cyprian Stevens. In 1896, after visiting a temporary exhibition of natural history specimens at city hall, he challenged his Portland audience to provide a permanent site for the exhibition of Oregon's rich natural resources. In 1906, a City Hall Museum was established for displaying some of the amazing collections received from local donors. Despite public demand, by the 1930's these exhibits had been placed in storage due to the need for more office space in the building. An effort in 1930 to start a Portland Museum of Natural History was soon derailed by the Great Depression. Stevens remained one of the museum's strongest advocates for the rest of his life, serving as both President and Board member throughout the years.

Due to delays caused by the Second World War, it was not until 1944 that the idea of a museum began to take shape with the incorporation of the Oregon Museum Foundation. In 1946 the first display of natural history objects were displayed by the Foundation at the Portland Hotel. Support for the museum continued to grow and in 1949 businessman Ralph Lloyd allowed the Foundation to set up a temporary museum in a house he owned on NE Hassalo Street. It was in this location that the museum was first given the name "Oregon Museum of Science and Industry". Within a year, the Northwest's first public planetarium opened, which took visitors on a 20-minute trip to the stars under its dome.

By 1955, annual attendance at the Hassalo House had swelled to over 25,000, but the house was set to be demolished to make way for a new hotel. The house had always been considered a temporary home and there were very early plans to build a dedicated museum building, but the museum had no land to build on. The City Council stepped forward and agreed to lease land in Washington Park to OMSI for the sum of one dollar per year.

Now that a location had been found, a group of civic-minded business and education leaders began a statewide fundraising campaign to build the new museum dedicated to science and industry. In the spirit of pioneer barn-raisings of the 19th century, over 400 volunteer union brick layers and hod carriers laid 102,000 bricks to raise the walls of OMSI's new Washington Park site in one day on August 17, 1957. On June 7, 1958, J.C. Steven's dream of a dedicated hands-on museum of science and industry became a shining reality with the opening of the Washington Park location. Over the next 35 years as a non-tax based private institution, OMSI's interactive science exhibits and educational programs introduced millions of visitors to the wonders of our world.

By the mid-1980's, OMSI's popularity with visitors surpassed the size of its facility as 600,000 people per year attended a museum built to accommodate only 100,000. A new group of community leaders began a campaign to build a state-of-the-art science center, complete with a 315-seat dome-screen OMNIMAX Dome Theater (the first in the Northwest) and an expanded 200-seat planetarium. Five years later over $32 million had been donated by business, foundations, and individuals to construct a new museum. The project came together when longtime OMSI supporter, Portland General Electric, generously donated an 18.5-acre site that held a historic sawdust-fired power generation plant. The plans for the new museum incorporated the original smokestack and turbine buildings to blend together technology of the past, present, and future.

On October 24, 1992, the new 219,000 square-foot OMSI opened. In 1994, OMSI opened the USS Blueback for public tours, providing a unique look at the people, history, and technology associated with the last non-nuclear powered submarine built by the U.S. Navy. OMSI has continued to grow over the years and currently has five exhibit halls with hundreds of interactive exhibits and displays. Today, the museum serves over 1 million visitors at the museum and through off-site education programs. OMSI is ranked as one of the top science centers in the United States and has an international reputation for its innovative exhibits and educational programs.

Meet Our Board

OMSI’s Board of Trustees is a special group of volunteers with a passion for OMSI, our community, and science education. They bring professional expertise, advocacy skills, financial support, and boundless energy to countless projects on OMSI’s behalf.

Financials

OMSI is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that receives no state or local tax support and relies on admissions, memberships and donations to continue our educational mission, programs and exhibits.

Our Vision

Learn how OMSI is catalyzing inquiry and innovation, and shaping the next generation of experts in science, technology, engineering and math.

Support OMSI

Science education opens minds and creates opportunities for all ages. Make a difference in our community today! Donate, volunteer your time, or both.

Annual Report

View OMSI's current Annual Report, including financial information, museum highlights, and recognition of contributors and volunteers.