5 New Museums Portland Should Open Immediately

We have notes.

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

Portland is hardly pressed for excellent museums. Still, there's always room for improvement. Here are five suggestions for future institutions that would showcase what makes the Rose City special.

Shoe Museum 

Sneakertown, USA—home to Nike, Adidas, and the Pensole Footwear Design Academy—ought to have a dedicated space for kicks, no? Beaverton feels far, but maybe there’s room in a dusty corner of the Montgomery Park building, where the Adidas employee store now lives. (Sorry, Phil.)

Animation Museum

As a world-class animation city, it feels weird that the most gallery shine our work gets is the occasional showcase at PAM. Since we’re the hometown of the late claymation pioneer Will Vinton, and the home base of a plethora of stop-motion projects from Laika, ShadowMachine, and Netflix, we think it’s about time we rounded up some miniatures, some cells, and some sketches for display.

Coffee Museum

There’s a world where this winds up a twee Portlandia sketch, and another where it’s a fun, informative ode to our legacy as a beantown of a particular sort. Whichever way the wind blows, we should get the ball rolling. Permanent historical exhibits? Annual competitions/tastings? Some nerdy science stuff that explains extraction methods? We would like to see it. Plus, imagine the café!

Protest Museum

Don’t Shoot PDX has an archive of banners, photography, and memorabilia from the past decade or so of Portland protests, primarily Black Lives Matter demonstrations and Occupy Portland. It’s a great starting point. Let’s tap them and other local archivists to develop a permanent collection spanning the history of Little Beirut, from Depression-era longshoremen strikes to heated student Vietnam demonstrations to last year’s headline-making marches after the murder of George Floyd.

Umbrella Museum

Not to wade into one of the great debates of our time, but “Portlanders don’t use umbrellas” scans to some of us (ahem) as a bit of a 2012 Buzzfeed, Portland So Quirky red herring, actively denying the experience of rain-loving Oregonians who simply prefer to keep their hair intact. If we’ve got a vacuum museum, a (former) hat museum, and a puppet museum, this feels like a no-brainer as our next item-specific endeavor: tongue-in-cheek enough to generate headlines and easier to pull off than “rain museum.” 

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