PORTLAND, Ore. - While the rest of the country celebrates Valentine's Day on February 14, Oregonians know the Beaver State joined the Union as the 33rd state on that date back 1859.
The Oregon Historical Society has prepared a love letter to the state to celebrate 160 years.
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This Thursday at noon, the new 7,000 square foot Experience Oregon exhibit opens to the public.
"Whether you were born here, have chosen to make this place home, or are just passing through, it is undeniable that there is something special about this state," the Historical Society said in a statement. "From its varied geography to its innovative legislation, Oregon is complex and distinctive, filled with people whose stories are the foundation of the state we see today."
Admission will be free February 14 to February 18. A special Family Day is planned for Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.
The exhibit is more than just a collection of objects and photos.
“Experience Oregon is very aptly named,” says Kerry Tymchuk, Executive Director of the Oregon Historical Society. “It is a state-of-the-art immersive experience that brings to life the remarkable and dramatic history of Oregon and those who have called it home. From priceless artifacts to breathtaking images to unforgettable stories of the individuals who have made and changed history, there is truly something for everyone in this exhibit.”
Visitors to the exhibit enter "through a panoramic theater that introduces major themes and sets the stage for the exhibit," according to the Historical Society. "Land and water are two of the most pervasive topics covered, displaying the diversity of Oregon’s landscape, as well as people’s historical and ongoing relationships with its resources. Visitors follow a 'river' along the floor to reinforce the importance of water to Oregon’s history, and to the many people who call this place home."
Throughout the exhibit, visitors will find "Across Time" stations focused on themes like home, water and land that help draw connections between the past and present.
And interactive stations throughout the exhibition include a covered wagon, role-playing games and a “Stories from the Archives” tablet game.
The exhibit is 3 years in the making.
“The design process for Experience Oregon was truly cutting-edge, and is one of the aspects that makes this exhibition so unique,” sid Helen B. Louise, OHS Museum Director. “It’s impossible for a single person to adequately tell a history this immense as there are so many points of view to consider. Rather than having one single curator, the content and conceptualization for Experience Oregon has been a collaboration of stakeholders, making this such a rich exhibition, both in content and design.”