Explore the history of Bend and Central Oregon

The history of this place we call home never ceases to amaze us. Thankfully, Central Oregon is home to a handful of stellar museums and culture centers.

Here’s a brief roundup of current exhibits at Bend’s Deschutes Historical Museum and High Desert Museum.

Central Oregon and the Great War: WWI and the High Desert
Through the fall

A stirring exhibit complete with uniforms, weapons, news clippings and interpretive panels, the Deschutes Historical Museum’s exhibit helps visitors understand Central Oregon’s role in “The Great War,” as well as that of the United States as a whole.

Reflections of Early Bend: The Van Vleet Family Historic Photograph Collection
Through the fall

Experience Central Oregon’s pioneer history Bend through the eyes of the Van Vleets, one of  Bend’s founding families. The black-and-white images were printed from large-format, glass-plate negatives that had been stored in an attic in Stayton for close to 70 years. They depict everyday life in Bend and Central Oregon as well as celebrated events, such as the 1911 visit to Bend of railroad magnate James J. Hill.

Ascent: Climbing Explored

Through September 9
Immerse yourself in the history and culture of climbing and mountaineering in the High Desert and discover why our region has long been a beacon for adventurers. Learn about the evolution of gear and the importance of balancing outdoor recreation with environmental stewardship.

Art in the West
July 28-August 25
Every year this juried art show attracts well-known artists from around the country. Proceeds from the silent auction help support the Museum’s educational programs.

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

From raptors completing long migrations to bees finding food, animals can navigate over short and long distances without the tools available to humans. Explore how different species find their way in the High Desert, how scientists are unraveling these mysteries and how we, too, can navigate by taking a closer look at our surroundings.

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

Edward S. Curtis spent 30 years at the beginning of the 20th century photographing Native people from more than 80 tribes, recording Native American culture amid rapid societal changes. His images, featuring Native women and the art they created, showcased alongside historical and contemporary works of art created by Native women, presents a celebration of Indigenous artistic traditions that have existed for centuries and continue to thrive within Native communities today.

Desert Mystic: The Paintings of John Simpkins
October 27-February 17, 2019

John Simpkins has lived and painted, alone with his dog, in the Andrews Schoolhouse for the past seven years. The old stone schoolhouse is one of the few remaining buildings in Andrews, a ghost town nestled between the southeastern edge of Steens Mountain and the Alvord Desert in Oregon’s Harney County. His paintings reflect the arid landscape and uniquely adapted animals of this stark and beautiful place and weaves them into dense, layered allegories informed by the tradition of American primitivism and folk painting.

High Desert Dreams: The Lost Homsteads of the Fort Rock Basin
Through October 14
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.  Photographer Rich Bergeman captures the decaying homesteads, vanished town sites and High Desert ecology through beautiful black-and-white photographs.