A visionary’s dream to create a world class museum blossoms in the High Desert
The High Desert Museum will mark its 35th anniversary with a party and presentation on May 12. Diversity in the Desert: A Community Celebration will feature live music, appetizers, kids’ activities, demonstrations at the Lazinka sawmill and special presentations by guest speakers Dr. Tom Connolly, director of archaeological research and Dr. Dennis Jenkins, archaeologist, from the UO’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History.
Join them as they explore 15,000 years of High Desert prehistory. Guests can also see Capturing Time: 35 Years of the High Desert Museum, a small exhibition of artifacts from the Museum’s collection.
Built on the premise that museums should be collections of unique experiences, repositories of memories and places of discovery, Don Kerr, the Museum’s founder, often expressed that the Museum’s role was “…to wildly excite and responsibly teach.” Kerr envisioned that visitors to the Museum would leave not only with a heightened sense of the High Desert’s natural and cultural worlds, but also with a commitment to stewarding the region’s future.
“The Museum has a strong reputation for developing and delivering unique, thought-provoking programs and exhibitions that stimulate conversation,” said the Museum’s Executive Director Dana Whitelaw, Ph.D. “We serve as a forum for meaningful discussion on a range of issues relating to the natural and cultural history of the region. We are committed to supporting diverse voices in our exhibitions and programs.”
The Museum opened in 1982 based upon an educational philosophy that placed as much emphasis on personal experience as it did on knowledge. One year later, Kerr contacted Portland Architect Thomas Hacker after seeing an article and watercolor rendering in The Oregonian about a national competition Hacker’s fledgling firm had won for the Arizona Historical Society Museum in Tempe. Kerr was seeking an architect to partner with on the next phase of construction at the Museum, building the Earle A. Chiles Center on the Spirit of the West, a new and expanded entrance pavilion and a new administrative wing. Beguiled by Kerr’s infectious enthusiasm, thus began a long-term relationship between the architectural firm Hacker and the High Desert Museum.
Set on a 135-acre campus, the main museum building features walls constructed of lava rock gathered directly from the site and incorporates ponderosa pine columns harvested from the grounds. Paved trails lead through a forest to outdoor features such as the 1904 Miller Family Ranch, High Desert Ranger Station, Changing Forest, Donald M. Kerr Birds of Prey Center and the recently renovated Autzen Otter Exhibit. Enabling a deeper understanding of the region’s arts, culture, history and natural sciences through the presentation and interpretation of visual art exhibits, historical artifacts, living history performances and wildlife encounters, the Museum has welcomed over five million visitors since opening its doors… and counting.
Cost to attend the May 12 event is free to members and $7 for guests. A commemorative pint glass with 5 tasting tickets will also be available for $10. RSVP by May 5 at www.highdesertmuseum.org/rsvp or by calling 541-382-4754 ext. 241.
Diversity in the Desert is made possible by The Bend Foundation and with support from Chubb. Special thanks to these companies for providing food and beverages: A Broken Angel, Atlas Cider Company, Bangarang, Cascade Lakes Brewing Co., Cody’s Catering, Craft Kitchen and Brewery, Crux Fermentation Project, Deschutes Brewery, Silver Moon Brewing, Sunriver Brewing Company, Terminal Gravity Brewing and Worthy Brewing Company.
About the High Desert Museum: The Museum’s mission is to explore the High Desert’s unique landscape, cultures, wildlife, history and arts, connecting our visitors to the past and helping them discover their role in the present and responsibility to the future. The Museum is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that was founded in 1982.