Museums, Theaters, Galleries, Music, and More
Photo courtesy Portland Art Museum
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Arts and cultural activities take place throughout the city, many of them free to the community in public plazas, community centers, and parks. Portland is also known for its numerous artistic bastions within the city from the lively downtown cultural district, to the Pearl District (home to First Thursdays and many first tier galleries, as well as the Gerding Theater at the Armory), to NE Alberta Street (where Last Thursday Art Walk and the annual Alberta Street Art Fair take place).
The Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) serves the Portland metro area and helps to build support for a thriving arts and culture community through advocacy and grants, as well as art in public places. And there are plenty of offerings available for your own budding artists from the Oregon Children’s Theater’s all kid theater troupe, or ceramics at Mimosa Studios.
So whether you’d like to spend the day at a gallery, art walk, museum, or spend your evening at the theater, opera, ballet, or symphony, Stumptown’s eclectic art scene has everything you need to lead a life enriched by the arts.
For an extensive roundup of Portland’s music, film, visual arts, museums, and performing arts, check out Travel Portland’s culture section at www.travelportland.com/things-to-do/culture
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
1037 SW Broadway
Portland, OR 97205
The Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall opened as the Portland Public Theater in 1928, before becoming the Paramount in 1930 and “The Schnitz” in 1984. The grand Italian rococo theater is a historic building and performing arts center whose Broadway marquee is crowned by a 65-foot-high “Portland” sign illuminated with 6,000 lights. In addition to being home to the Oregon Symphony, it also welcomes big-name touring acts and other events.
Artists Repertory Theatre
1515 SW Morrison Street
Portland, OR 97205
Founded in 1982, Artists Repertory Theatre is the longest-running professional theatre company in Portland. Artists Rep’s mission is to engage diverse audiences in fresh, thought-provoking and intimate theatre. Artists Rep productions feature the work of a core group of accomplished Resident Artists, each with a shared history and a shorthand for collaboration, working alongside guest artists from Portland and beyond. We are committed to world-class acting, directing, design and stagecraft that support new playwriting and aspire to embody great literature, moving audiences to truly feel — to experience — storytelling in a way that only the best live theater can.
BodyVox Dance Company
1201 NW 17th Avenue
Portland, OR 97209
Dance troupe BodyVox takes a wildly imaginative — and often hilarious — approach to physicality. The company’s engaging, visceral work has been featured at the Academy Awards and in music videos for U2 and Sting, but is best experienced up close in the 150-seat studio at BodyVox’s dance center. Season: October-May.
Chamber Music Northwest
522 SW Fifth Avenue
Portland, OR 97204
Enjoy diverse musical experiences from world-class concerts and arts collaborations to educational lectures and master classes, all in the relaxed casual atmosphere that only Chamber Music Northwest provides. Chamber Music Northwest performs in venues throughout Portland for its Summer Festival June 22 – July 26 featuring exceptional artists, renowned ensembles, masterpieces from the chamber repertoire, brand-new pieces being premiered and more.
222 SW Clay Street
Portland, OR 97201
The spacious Keller Auditorium, formerly known as the Portland Municipal Auditorium, the Portland Public Auditorium, and the Portland Civic Auditorium, was built in 1917 and is part of the Portland Center for the Performing Arts. The venue hosts performing arts events of all kinds, ranging from Broadway productions to ballet and opera. For events, the auditorium has its own box office, concessions stand, and the Keller Cafe and Martini Bar.
Lakewood Center for the Arts
368 South State Street
Lake Oswego, OR 97034
Established in 1952, Lakewood Theatre Company is the oldest continuously operating theatre company in the Portland metro area. Performances are on the Headlee Mainstage, a 220-seat intimate theatre at Lakewood Center for the Arts in Lake Oswego.
First Thursday, in the Pearl District and downtown, has been going strong since 1986. On the first Thursday of each month, galleries and businesses, including the Pacific Northwest College of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Craft, debut new exhibitions, stay open late and throw a soiree, complete with free wine and snacks and great people-watching. Of course, it’s also serious business for local galleries like the Elizabeth Leach Gallery, one of the celebration’s pioneers.
During Northeast Alberta Street’s Last Thursday, the art openings at spaces like the Guardino Gallery set the scene for a boisterous street fair that attracts independent artists and performers, from local bands to troupes of acrobats. Held year-round, the event is biggest from May through September, when the street is closed to traffic during the festivities.
First Friday, hosted by Central Eastside galleries, studios and alternative art spaces, brings visitors up close with working artists in this burgeoning district. ADX, a shared workshop for everything from metal to textiles, is a good place to begin a tour.
Milagro – Miracle Theatre Group
425 SE Sixth Avenue
Portland, OR 97214
Since 1985, Milagro has provided extraordinary Latino theatre, culture and arts education experiences for the enrichment of all communities, and continues to thrive at its home El Centro Milagro, located the vibrant Southeast Industrial District. Performances at Milagro Theatre always showcase the best of local and international Latino playwrights, musicians, dancers, actors and more. Milagro’s event space includes the theater, which has capacity for 121 people. The community space, El Zócalo, accommodates 80 people seating and 120 standing.
Museum of Contemporary Craft
724 NW Davis Street
Portland, OR 97209
Portland has a long craft tradition — the production of handmade pots and bowls, jewelry and glass, finely turned wood objects and hand-woven fiber art — and one of its centers since 1937 has been the Museum of Contemporary Craft (MoCC). In fact, the museum is the oldest continuously running craft institution in the country. But from the beginning, when it was known as the Oregon Ceramic Studio, its spirit was restless; searching out craft artists who were exploring the edges of their fields, changing our ideas about what is possible with clay or fiber or glass, and blurring the line between craft and art in the process.
That spirit continues as the museum has partnered with the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA), which recently joined the museum on the North Park Blocks. Expanding its focus to include design, the museum continues to mount major exhibitions on Northwest historical figures as well as groundbreaking reconsiderations of what “craft” is.
Northwest Children’s Theater
1819 NW Everett Street
Portland, OR 97209
Formed in 1993, NWCT is a healthy nonprofit and one of the largest children’s theater companies on the West Coast. The theater company and school produces five major shows a year and the 450-seat theater and classrooms are located in the historic Northwest Neighborhood Cultural Center.
Oregon Ballet Theatre
1037 SW Broadway Street
Portland, OR 97205
Oregon Ballet Theatre has thrilled audiences — and wowed critics nationwide — with revered classics, its own original works and scintillating collaborations with the country’s edgiest choreographers. Established in 1989, OBT’s celebrated company of dancers performs an annual five-program season at the Portland’5 Centers for the Arts. Season: October-April.