About Us

The Museum

About Us

Discover the natural world and cultural history of the West’s High Desert through artful exhibits, alluring animals, engaging programs and meaningful history.

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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, 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, bobcat, porcupine and badger. Talk with historic characters who share tales of early Oregon explorers and settlers. Visit an authentic homestead 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.

Our Mission

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.

Donald M. Kerr

Our History

“I’ve raised a wolf and two great horned owls,” Kerr said. “I’ve been lucky to have these experiences that aren’t possible for most people. I wanted to bring others closer to nature, to experience it, to learn to maintain it.”

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Donald M. Kerr, a native 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 place and its resources, 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

2017 Board of Trustees

Board Chair: Josh Newton
Marilyn Beem
Ryan W. Bounds
Gretchen Brooks
Gail Hayes Davis
Julie Drinkward
Delia Feliciana
Jim Franzen
Peter J. Hall
Ryan Hagemann



Margi Heater
Sharon Hewitt
Cameron Kerr
KC Lockrem
Bret Matteis
Betsy McCool
Randy Miller
Kevin Palmer
Don Paterson
Greg Rasmussen


Lori Ray
Chip Reeves
Peter Richter
Steve Shropshire
Susan Skalski
Tom Triplett
Rich Wininger
Life Trustee: Mike P. Hollern

Contact a Department

Membership: 541-382-4754 ext. 244
Desert Sage Society: 541-382-4754 ext. 248
Event/facility rentals: 541-382-4754 ext. 284
Admissions: 541-382-4754 ext. 271
RSVPs/Program Information: 541-382-4754 ext. 241
Wildlife: 541-382-4754 ext. 310
Collections: 541-382-4754 ext. 392
Media: 541-382-4754 ext. 300
Maintenance/Facilities: 541-382-4754 ext. 267