An Ode to Oregon Museums We've Loved and Lost

Rest in power, National Hat Museum.

By Conner Reed Published in the Fall 2021 issue of Portland Monthly

We've exalted our favorite museums in Portland, big to small and everything in between. Now it's time to take a moment of silence for the fallen—here are five gone-but-not-forgotten Portland-area museums that belong in our permanent archive.

Portland Children’s Museum

Opened: 1946 / Closed: June 30, 2021

From humble beginnings as the “Junior Museum and Adventure House” in pre-Goose Hollow Goose Hollow to its long-standing seat by the Oregon Zoo in Washington Park, the Children’s Museum was a family staple for 75 years. May its fun-as-hell fake grocery store rest in solemn peace. 

National Hat Museum

Opened: 2005 / Closed: 2020 (no current reopening plan)

This spot, the only one of its kind in the country, showcased the personal hat collection of Portlander Alyce Cornyn-Selby in a Ladd’s Addition historic Victorian home. The museum closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and current director Lu Ann Trotebas was forced to sell the space … but the several-thousand hats remain in storage, ready for a miracle.

American Advertising Museum

Opened: June 1986 / Closed: September 2004 

After years of buildup, this Old Town museum officially hit in the mid-’80s, which feels about right: setting aside the whole decade’s brand love, Wieden & Kennedy opened a few blocks away just four years earlier, positioning Portland as a future ad hub.

Cowboys Then & Now

Opened: 1991 / Closed: 1996

From one of the masterminds of the American Advertising Museum came this boot-scootin’ number on NE Oregon Street in the Lloyd District. Started with money from the Oregon Beef Council, the interactive ode to the Old West shared office with that org and the Cattleman’s Heritage Foundation, before taking a hike to the Union County Museum in La Grande.

World of Speed

Opened: 2015 / Closed: March 16, 2020 

This flashy Wilsonville motorsport museum filled a sizable showroom with vintage cars of all stripes before it shuttered at the onset of COVID restrictions last year. Auto enthusiasts, fear not: Salem’s Northwest Vintage Car and Motorcycle Museum still stands, as does the neighboring Pacific Northwest Trucks Museum.

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