Portland Museum of Contemporary Craft


One of Portland’s oldest cultural organizations is also one of its most interesting.

The Portland Museum of Contemporary Craft is a must see for any art lover looking to spend a few hours seeing some of the best current craftwork in the Northwest or internationally.

With five different displays per year, exhibits are switched out about once every three to four months, giving even locals something to stop and see when visiting downtown Portland.

During the day many people will come and sit on the chairs and benches in the museum to read, or just take in the artwork.

Some of the exhibits include videos, or interactive items, so be sure to take your time and really explore the gallery to get the full effect of the displays.

The Museum is located in Portland’s cultural center, The Pearl District, right off the Park Blocks in Northwest Portland. One of the best aspects of the museum, besides the wonderful and inspiring craft exhibits, is the location.

The museum is the cornerstone resident of the DeSoto Building, a development that houses four galleries and the museum, and it’s one reason The Pearl District is considered by many to be Portland’s cultural center.

Surrounded by several free galleries, the museum becomes a star on First Thursdays, when galleries are open later for a walking tour of the surrounding area.

“We are not only a museum, but also an education center,” said Leslie Miller of the Pacific Northwest College of Art, a school that is in partnership with the museum. “We have a lot of school programming here, however the museum is still independent, the college helps to support it.”

The museum is 73-years-old and has a rich history – one which can be shared if you talk to volunteers and staff at the museum.

Another way the museum is supported is through the gallery and gift shop, where more than 100 artists from the West coast are featured with items for sale. From unique prints to books to ceramic cookery and jewelry, there is a unique gift waiting to remind you of your trip to downtown Portland.

As an added bonus, the gift gallery promotes touching the different ceramics and pieces, so what you couldn’t touch in the main gallery, you get to handle here.

About the Portland Museum of Contemporary Craft: Museum of Contemporary Craft is a vibrant center for investigation and dialogue, expanding the definition of craft and the ways audiences experience it. At the Museum, craft is engaged as a verb as well as a noun, pondering what it means to “craft” something. Questions are posed, conversations ignited by dynamic exhibitions, thoughtful publications, provocative programs and special events.

What to bring: The center is indoors, and photography is allowed. Make sure you bring your curiosity and some time to walk around the exhibits. Bags need to be checked in at the door, so keep that in mind when you visit.

Tip: Make sure to visit the upstairs gallery, it is easy to miss, however the main display continues upstairs and usually there is also a secondary exhibit upstairs. Also, the gallery offers an extensive selection of crafts from artists from around the West Coast, so make sure to give it a visit for a unique gift, or a keepsake of your visit to Portland.  In addition the museum is surrounded by numerous free galleries, so make sure to explore the surrounding area to make it an art-filled afternoon.

Season: The museum is open year round.

Getting there: The address of the museum is 724 Northwest Davis Street, Portland, for those with rental cars with GPS units.

From I-5 North
Merge onto I-405 N via Exit 299B on the left toward US-26W/Beaverton/City Center. Take Exit 2B toward Everett St. This puts you on NW 14th Avenue. At the first intersection, turn right onto NW Everett Street. Turn right onto NW 8th Ave. Turn left onto NW Davis Street

From I-5 South
Take Exit 302A toward City Center. This puts you on N Broadway. N Broadway becomes Broadway Bridge. Broadway Bridge becomes NW Broadway. Turn right onto NW Davis Street.

From downtown Portland (heading West on Burnside Street)
Drive West on W Burnside Street toward SW Broadway. Turn right onto NW Broadway. Turn left onto NW Davis Street

From downtown Portland (heading East on Burnside Street)
Drive East on W Burnside Street toward NW 14th Avenue. Turn left onto NW 14th Avenue. Turn right onto NW Davis Street.

Museum of Contemporary Craft is also just blocks from arterial bike routes, the bus transit mall and the MAX light rail.

By Patrick Johnson
For Oregon.com