Exhibitions

Art. History. Cultures. Wildlife.

The Museum tells the stories of the High Desert’s diverse people and places through ever-changing exhibitions and permanent ones. The High Desert Museum sits on a 135-acre campus and more than 100,000 square feet of exhibit space that includes multiple galleries, winding interpretative paths and an expansive forest. Exhibits blend the natural world and cultural history, highlighting the ways that people have drawn on the High Desert’s resources and shaped the region over time. Learn more about the exhibits during our daily programs or sign up for an art workshop, special event, lecture or educational program associated with one of the exhibits.

There is always something new to see at the High Desert Museum with up to nine new exhibitions every year!

CHANGING EXHIBITS

Creations of Spirit
January 28, 2023 – October 1, 2023

Creations of Spirit is a one-of-a-kind, celebratory experience featuring the stories of living works of art from seven Indigenous artists. Videos, audio and large projections will immerse visitors in the landscapes and communities in which these objects are used, highlighting the theme of artwork as alive, full of stories and created for specific purposes and […]

In the Arena: Photographs from America’s Only Touring Black Rodeo
November 19, 2022 – June 25, 2023

Through the lens of San Francisco Bay Area photographer Gabriela Hasbun, this exhibit documents the exhilarating atmosphere of the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo—the only touring Black rodeo in the country—and the showstopping style and skill of the Black cowboys and cowgirls who compete in it year after year.

Under the Snow
December 17, 2022 – May 7, 2023

In the depth of winter, a deep layer of snow quiets the High Desert’s forests. But under the surface, a secret world comes to life. Under the Snow dives into the snow, where voles, shrews, insects and porcupines build a matrix of tunnels to survive the winter and hide from the predators that lurk just […]

PERMANENT INDOOR EXHIBITS

Desertarium

Meet some creatures of the High Desert in our Desertarium. Despite harsh conditions, the High Desert is teeming with life. Lizards, snakes and tortoises are well equipped for the dry climate and sandy soil, and where there’s water, there are turtles, frogs, salamanders and many species of fish.

Spirit of the West

Spirit of the West offers an unforgettable walk through time. Your journey starts with a stroll past a Northern Paiute shelter and a fur trapper’s camp where all the historical details are depicted in incredible detail. Continue through the Hudson’s Bay Company fort, alongside an Oregon Trail wagon, through a hard rock mine, past a […]

By Hand Through Memory

By Hand Through Memory will take you through the little known journey of the Plateau Indian Nations as they traveled from reservation confinement to the 21st century. This immersive exhibit highlights the experiences of Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs, Yakama, Spokane and Colville people.

Porcupines

Juniper and Tumbleweed are sibling porcupines who live at the Museum. Tumbleweed is a male porcupine who stars in our summer Desert Dwellers program. His sister, Juniper, also makes appearances in our natural habitat exhibit located in the Schnitzer Entrance Hall, just inside the Museum doors.

Blanket Stories: Works Progress, Talking Stick, Steward

Blanket Stories: Talking Stick, Works Progress, Steward was created by Portland-based artist Marie Watt for the Museum’s 2016 exhibition Art for a Nation: Inspiration from the Great Depression. In the spirit of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Museum commissioned Watt to create two sculptures for the exhibition: one from wood and one from blankets.

PERMANENT OUTDOOR EXHIBITS

1904 High Desert Ranch

Stop by and see what life was like for locals more than a hundred years ago. They will get your kids to do the chores they may refuse to do at home: digging in the garden, washing the laundry, or cross-cutting firewood. And when they’re finished, they can enjoy playing some frontier games. On the […]

Autzen Otter Exhibit

The Autzen Otter Exhibit is located outdoors and includes both outdoor and indoor viewing areas. Recently renovated, the outdoor glass walls provide great viewing for kids and those in wheelchairs to watch the otters.

Donald M Kerr Birds of Prey Center

Get a close-up look at some of nature’s most spectacular predators – owls, hawks, eagles, falcons and even vultures. There are Charisma and Kokanee the bald eagles, Nicholas the golden eagle, Luna the great horned owl and more.

Lazinka Sawmill

Authentic 1904 sawmill. See an authentic sawmill that was used at the turn of the 20th century to process wood with an enormous blade slicing through thick Oregon timber.

High Desert Ranger Station

One of the first things you see when you enter the Museum grounds is a little white building with a green roof. It’s an authentic forest ranger office from the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, built in 1933.

Changing Forest

The High Desert region is a complex landscape that features more than just sagebrush. This exhibit explains the role of forests and their dynamic nature in an arid environment. Learn about nutrient cycles, soils, impacts, wildlife and the influences of the dynamic trio: water, sunlight and air in the life cycle of a changing forest.