The High Desert Museum has been inspiring families since 1982 and is consistently rated as the top Central Oregon attraction by Trip Advisor. With 135 acres and more than 100,000 square feet of exhibit space in the Museum, it’s a “must see” for anyone travelling through – or living in – the region. Get a close-up view of native wildlife, such as river otters, porcupines and raptors. Talk with historic characters who share tales of early Oregon homesteaders. Visit an authentic ranch and sawmill from 1904.
Experience a close encounter with owls, falcons, hawks and even a vulture. Learn about Native American culture and history, and delight your children with one of many fun, hands-on programs that bring history and science to life.
The High Desert Museum is located just five minutes south of Bend, Oregon on Hwy 97, and includes a Museum store and café. Open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and Fourth of July.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services named the High Desert Museum as one of six recipients of the 2021 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities.
The Museum was recognized for providing dynamic programming and services through community outreach, working to create programs that offer rich educational programming and expand museum access.
Donald M. Kerr
Donald M. Kerr of Portland, Oregon was very aware of the preciousness of the High Desert landscape and its abundant life and fragility. He was a teacher to the core and felt strongly that if people were provided with good information, they would make wise decisions about this place he loved.
He determined that the best way to help people see what he saw and feel what he felt, to become stewards of this landscape, was to create the High Desert Museum. When he set his sights on something, the word “no” dropped from his vocabulary.
But it kept showing up, especially among potential donors. When Don told Robert Chandler, editor and publisher of The Bulletin, what he planned, Chandler said, “You need to get a real job. This’ll never work.” Don persisted and Bob Chandler became one of the Museum’s strongest supporters.
When the Museum opened in 1982, not even Don Kerr could he have imagined how those seeds of wonder, discovery and connection to place that he planted would blossom and grow, educate and enrich, hundreds of thousands of children and adults who come from near and far to experience what Don created.
2022 – 2023 Board of Trustees
Executive Director: Dana Whitelaw
Board Chair: Nelson Mathews
Collections Chair: Cameron Kerr
Development Chair: Sharon Gueck
Finance Chair: Kevin Palmer
Governance Chair: Gary Cutler
J. Ned Dempsey
Peter J. Hall
Michael P. Hollern
2022 – 2023 Advisory Council: