While there’s plenty to see and do at the museum, there’s a lot that people don’t know and never see. Whether it’s a program you didn’t know existed or a fun piece of OMSI history, there are plenty of stories to tell.
When and where did OMSI begin? Earlier this year we celebrated 20 years on Water Avenue in Southeast Portland. Plenty of people still remember OMSI’s well-known and longest-lived location (1957 – 1992) in Washington Park next to the Oregon Zoo. In 1949 the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry was given its name and first home in a little house on Hassalo Street in Northeast Portland. While OMSI didn’t truly “exist” until that time the eventual exhibits that would find a home here had been around since the late 1800s. First as a collection of specimens in Portland’s City Hall and later in the Portland Hotel. It is in large part thanks to the vision of a man named J.C. Stevens that OMSI became a reality.
Think you can’t go to OMSI Camp because you’re an adult? Don’t! We offer fun weekends a few times during the year for the whole family. Or you and a +1. All ages are welcome. Head out east to Camp Hancock in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument or get your feet wet at Camp Kiwanilong on the Oregon Coast. Both campsites will allow you to get your fill of hiking, camp songs, bonfires, stargazing, and science.
This letterpress is one of the oldest artifacts at OMSI, although not currently on display. The Golding Pearl No. 1 was made in1888 and used for a typography exhibit at OMSI in the late 1960s. It contains two cabinets of type and the flywheel is currently being rebuilt. Once its restored it will have a home in the OMSI Physics Lab, where many other artifacts of its era can be found. If you love OMSI history or history in general, be sure to speak with Craig Reed, our Senior Physics Educator.
Visitors to OMSI in the past year have seen an increasingly familiar sight on the waterfront just south of the building. The Portland-Milwaukee Light Rail Bridge is the first addition over the river since 1973 and will open in 2015. You can see a live feed of the bridge construction on our website. Next time you visit in person come see the bridge cam kiosk along the glass hallway between Earth and Life Science halls. You can control the camera from that spot, which means that if the image on the webpage is moving, someone here at OMSI is playing at the kiosk.
Star Trek: Federation Science was developed here at OMSI and was one of the last featured exhibits on view in the Washington Park building in 1992. The popular Sci-fi series was celebrating its 25th anniversary and undergoing a renaissance with The Next Generation. The exhibit featured actors Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard), Brent Spiner (Data the android) and LeVar Burton (Geordi La Forge) voicing instructional videos. The exhibit toured nationally throughout the 1990s before heading on a European tour to Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom at the turn of the 21st century. Federation Science remains one of OMSI’s most popular and well received exhibits to this day.