Museums in and around Bend, Oregon


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Museums in and around Bend, Oregon

Where history, culture, and nature come alive

If you thought Bend, Oregon, was all about stunning landscapes and outdoor adventures, think again. Among the mountain peaks and pristine rivers, Bend’s got a secret cultural side waiting to be uncovered. If you want to add a splash of culture to your visit, discover one of our diverse and engaging museums and explore the region’s history, traditions, and landscapes. Trade in those hiking boots for your favorite walking kicks – Bend’s museum scene is ready to take you on a journey of learning and discovery.

Whether you’re on the search for an afternoon of family-friendly fun with wildlife, curious about Bend’s roots, or want to learn more about the Native American people who were here long before, there’s a museum waiting for you.

Fish tanks at the High Desert Museum in Bend, OR

High Desert Museum

High Desert Museum offers visitors of all ages the chance to immerse themselves in the natural and cultural history of Central Oregon. Kids will love the interactive programs, and all will enjoy the art, wildlife, and events that bring history and science to life.

Experiencing wild life up close is a favorite part of the High Desert Museum experience. The antics of the river otters will captivate everyone and you will gasp as birds of prey soar overhead in the Bird of Prey Encounter. You can also learn how the museum’s wildlife team cares for animals like bobcats, foxes, porcupines, and bald eagles that can’t be released back into the wild.

Then, take a journey back in time with historical characters sharing the tales of Oregon’s pioneer spirit at the 1904 High Desert Ranch and relive the hustle and bustle of an authentic 1900s sawmill. Discover indigenous roots as you take a journey from a Northern Paiute shelter to Silver City’s boomtown era, complete with immersive historical reenactments. Dive into the Plateau Indian Nations’ evolution, highlighting the narratives of the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs, Yakama, Spokane, and Colville communities.

The museum is spread over 135 acres, with more than 100,000 square feet dedicated to exhibits, and invites visitors to discover the region’s rich history, vibrant ecosystems, and diverse cultures. It’s a short drive south of Bend off Highway 97.

The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hours can change during peak seasons and holidays, so check their website for the latest hours, special exhibits, and events.

Deschutes Historical Museum

The Deschutes Historical Museum invites guests to discover the stories, events, and people that have shaped the region. From Native American tribal history, homesteading the High Desert, logging, and life throughout the area over the years, the Deschutes Historical Museum preserves, promotes, and celebrates our shared local history.

Dive into Bend’s history with exhibits and artifacts. Step into a 1914 classroom, practice your cursive on a traditional chalkboard and experience the life of a student from over a century ago. Explore images and relics showcasing Bend’s rich logging history, from quaint early mills to the grand enterprises of Brooks-Scanlon and Shevlin-Hixon, leading up to the inauguration of the U.S. Forest Service. Or see what life was like for the pioneers of Central Oregon as they farmed challenging sagebrush terrain with the help of successful irrigation projects. 

For a self-guided tour of Bend’s history, download the Heritage Walk app. From interactive maps to information on over 40 historical sites, this app brings Central Oregon’s history right to your fingertips. 

The museum is located in Downtown Bend in the historical Reid School, which was built in 1914. Since 1980, the school has been the home to the Deschutes Historical Museum, offering exhibits, a resource library, and the Deschutes County Historical Society’s collections. Visit their website for more information, including current admission fees, hours, events, and exhibits. 

An exhibit at the Museum at Warm Springs

Museum at Warm Springs

The Museum at Warm Springs welcomes you to immerse yourself in the diverse and vibrant cultures of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon. Here, you’ll discover one of the nation’s finest collections of Plateau Native American artifacts. The museum keeps culture and heritage alive, from exhibits showcasing traditional crafts, contemporary art, the sounds of ancient songs and stories, as well as workshops and live demonstrations.

The museum is more than just a display of the past. It’s a living embodiment of the Warm Springs, Wasco, and Paiute tribes’ continuous journey, from their ancestral roots to contemporary contributions. As you wander through the galleries, you will encounter photos, stories, and ceremonies reflecting their struggles and triumphs.

The Museum at Warm Springs is located in Warm Springs, Oregon, about 60 miles north of Bend. It’s well worth the trip! Visit their website for more information, including current admission fees, hours, events, and exhibits. 

The planetarium at the Sunriver Nature Center and Observatory

Sunriver Nature Center & Observatory

Unravel the mysteries of the cosmos and the natural world at the Sunriver Nature Center & Observatory. First enjoy interactive exhibits, planetarium shows, and guided telescope observations. Then, step outside and discover the diverse landscape of the High Desert region on nature trails and in the botanical garden.

Three Sisters Historical Society & Museum

The Three Sisters Historical Society & Museum offers rich and immersive local history, transporting visitors back in time to the lives and cultures of early inhabitants of the region. Learn about the Native American tribes who lived in the area for centuries, the pioneers who settled the land, and the modern-day quilting and rodeo-loving town of Sisters.

Fort Rock Valley Historical Society – Homestead Village Museum

The Fort Rock Valley Historical Society – Homestead Village Museum is a living history museum that preserves and interprets the homesteading era in the Fort Rock Valley of Oregon. The museum features a collection of original homestead-era buildings, including a church, school, houses, and homestead cabins. Visitors can tour the buildings and learn about the challenges and triumphs of homesteaders in the early 20th century. The museum is about 70 miles southeast of Bend in the town of Fort Rock and is open seasonally from Memorial Day through second weekend in September.