Connecting Across our Diverse Oregon Stories

Gift from The Coeta and Donald Barker Foundation to fund new, inclusive programming   

By Erin Hart
Senior Associate Director of Development
Museum of Natural and Cultural History 

We’re delighted to announce that The Coeta and Donald Barker Foundation has awarded the museum $20,000 to develop and launch a museum-wide program focused on Oregon’s diverse histories.

Since its founding, the museum has been digging into Oregon’s past—conducting scientific research in collaboration with Native American Tribes to better understand the state’s deep history. Thanks to this generous gift, we will soon be expanding our tried-and-true, collaborative research approach to learn more about recent histories of culturally specific groups. The research, in turn, will result in new educational programs and exhibits that tell a more inclusive Oregon story.

Thanks to this generous gift, we will be able to expand our tried-and-true, collaborative research approach to learn more about the recent histories of culturally specific groups.

Child in the exhibit hall examining a video display about the Native peoples of Oregon's Western Valleys

A young visitor exploring the Native history of Oregon’s western valleys

As a community anchor, the museum has a responsibility to respond to longstanding social injustices. One of the key ways we do that is through our public exhibits—exhibits like Oregon—Where Past is Present, which amplifies the voices of Oregon’s First Peoples in telling the stories of their ancient past and celebrates the dynamic cultures of today’s Tribes. Another example is Racing to Change, our award-winning civil rights exhibit, developed in partnership with Oregon Black Pioneers and leaders from across Lane County’s Black communities. These exhibits and our other efforts to share more inclusive histories have brought overwhelming community response in the forms of record visitation and K-12 field trip requests, unprecedented website traffic, and heartfelt feedback about the importance of hearing these long-marginalized stories. We are honored to be able to expand our work in this area and steward a more complete picture of Oregon’s diverse history.

Our deepest thanks to The Coeta and Donald Barker Foundation for their partnership in this important work.


Header image: Visitors at the musuem’s Racing to Change exhibit, October 2019


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