10 thoughts on “The Children’s Museum, 1976

  1. It’s hard to make out what’s become of the original building pictured here in Lair Park. There is a brick building at 3037 SW 2nd Ave. today that looks like the one pictured here (brick, the same roofline with dormers) but it’s larger and you can’t see the entrance side of the building that is facing into the park; so the old building may have been expanded as it looks as though there was room to expand looking at today’s picture.

    The new Children’s Museum off SW Canyon Road has much less character; looks very ’60s “modern”. The new location has much better parking, however, and that’s a big plus.

  2. The Oregonian has a few mentions of some sort of children’s museum in the 1940’s — located at S.W. 14 th Avenue and Main Street, where the focus seems to have been on natural history. It looks like this was affiliated with the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

    By 1975, we can read of the Lair Hill Park association with the museum. On August 28 (p. 34): “MUSEUM PROPOSES OAKS NATURE CENTER The Children’s Museum advisory board released Wednesday a proposal for an environmental education center at Oaks Bottom, where the Portland Audubon Society wants a wildlife sanctuary… The museum also would like to construct an education center, including nature trails and interpretive displays, to replace an inadequate structure in Lair Hill Park…”

    Two years later, “POOH POTPOURRI” — a musical adaptation of parts of “WInnie the Pooh”… will be presented free in the Lair Hill Park Children’s Museum….” (June 8, 1977, p. 85).

    In 1979 (May 11, p. 21): “Children’s classes and workshops, in conjunction with a UNICEF exhibit of children’s art, will be held…at the Children’s Museum, 3037 S.W. 2nd Ave…. Classes are intended to teach children about other cultures through crafts, cooking, storytelling, fabric design, puppetry, mask making and drawing.” Other notices in the Oregonian mention sculpture, juggling and puppetry classes.

    In 1983 (June 7, p. 53) there was an article about a major photographic exhibition at the museum, showing visitors early Lair Hill history. Catherine Taylor, chair of the Lair Hill District Advisory Council, “suggested the exhibit four months ago. She also wants the Children’s Museum…recognized as an integral part of the still existing neighborhood. “The identity of the museum is tied in with the neighborhood, and both are hard for people to find,” Taylor said.”

    In 1987, “The Friends of the Children’s Museum are sponsoring “The Lick,” which features a contest for homemade ice creams, to be held at Lair Hll Park (adjacent to the Children’s Museum)” (July 14, p. 65) That same year (October 29, p. 10) the museum announced a Baby Room Gallery to be opened in January, and asked families to “help celebrate the event by sharing their own unusual birth announcements….[which will] become part of the collections of the Children’s Museum.”

    When my husband and I tried to visit the new museum a couple of years ago, we were not allowed in, because we were not accompanied by a child. So, we’ve never been able to see exhibits there.

  3. This is extremely creepy.
    Is this museum like a zoo or is it preserved specimens ?
    ”Keep Portland Weird” for sure.

  4. This is the museum as I visited as a child. It was a frequent family outing in the first half of the 70s. I’d love to see pictures of the inside and test my memory: there were three floors, there was a time tunnel (a temporary exhibit if I recall correctly), taxidermy animals (bear? tiger?), pottery in the basement.

  5. The “new” museum is technically better – bigger, brighter, no creepy stuffed (taxidermy) animals. However, having been a kid in Portland from the late 60s to the mid 70s, Lair Hill Park is the Children’s museum to me. The current Children’s museum? In my memory that is OMSI with chickens hatching, a giant plastic beating heart to walk through, rooms full of rocks, etc. (as with the Children’s Museum, “new” OMSI is technically better, just not “my” OMSI).

  6. The original Children’s Museum was started in 1946 and housed in the Kamm house which was the subject of the VP photo from last Wednesday (10/28/2020) and at the time was called the Junior Museum. From the Portland Parks page on Lair Hill park they state there a two historical buildings in the park a 1918 brick building that served as a dormitory for nurses working at the county hospital. In 1942 this building was remodeled to serve as the Youth Administration of the Federal Security Agency. In 1949 the Park Bureau created a Junior Museum in the building (Children’s Museum) until it moved to the former OMSI building a Washington park.

  7. I lived at 2307 SW 5th & Sherman; played in Duniway Park and in Lair Hill Park and romped through the Children’s Museum and learned to swim at the Neighborhood House across the street from 1954-1960. In the late ’70s took my children to the Children’s Museum also, it was little dated but fun to show where I had played when I was their age. Fond memories.

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