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Arts and Culture in Portland

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The ultra-cool downtown area of Portland is full of hip distractions, from independent theaters to challenging contemporary art exhibitions. The city has been home to, and inspired, many authors and musicians, with its diverse architecture, outdoor spaces, and lively cultural scene.




Portland is well known for its diverse selection of theaters, from older buildings that have been beautifully restored to newer studio spaces hosting shows by upcoming playwrights.


The Gerding Theater at Armory Building


The Gerding Theater has been created from an old industrial space, dating back to the late 19th century, with a red brick exterior and beautifully restored original features. Once home to the Oregon National Guard, it’s now a venue for cutting edge plays, from revamps of old classics to modern musicals and much more besides.


128 NW Eleventh Avenue, Portland OR 97209. Tel:+1 503 445 3700


The Gerding Theater at Armory Building website
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall


With Art Deco features and a decadent interior, the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall is the perfect venue for classical music, and there's an excellent selection of shows from the Oregon Symphony as well as touring orchestras. Check out the calendar for other major events, like stage shows and interviews with star authors and other creative pioneers.


1037 SW Broadway Avenue, Portland OR 97205. Tel:+1 503 248 4335


Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall website


Historic buildings


Portland has a large number of buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, from Victorian churches to Modernist homes, and a walking tour of the city lets you appreciate the broad selection of architecture on display.


Pittock Mansion


Set on top of a hill, overlooking the city's skyline, the Pittock Mansion was built by the wealthy and influential Pittock family in the early 20th century. It still stands in perfect condition, with grand staircases, rooms full of antique furniture, and French Renaissance style features. A tour will take you back through time to a long-gone era of aristocratic elegance.


3229 Northwest Pittock Drive, Portland OR 97210. Tel:+1 503 823 3623


Pittock Mansion website


Religious sites


Portland may be a hipster mecca, but it also has its share of must-see religious landmarks that exude old school grandeur, as well as serving as colorful refuges from the urban bustle.


The Grotto - National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother


Whether you’re a believer or not, you’ll want to visit this serene Catholic shrine and botanical garden that's cherished by people of all faiths who are seeking a peaceful escape. The Grotto itself is a cave carved into a cliffside, with statues, floral arrangements, and candles, and after visiting the shrine you can wander around the calm botanical gardens and take in panoramic views of the Columbia River Valley.


8840 Northeast Skidmore Street, Portland OR 97220. Tel:+1 503 254 7371


The Grotto - National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother website




With its population of daring creatives and bold bohemians, it’s no surprise to find a lively arts scene in Portland. There’s a huge array of small, independent galleries dotted around, while there’s also this stately bastion of high culture to explore.


Portland Art Museum


One of the USA's oldest art museums, this space still manages to have a contemporary and stimulating feel thanks to regularly showcasing the genre-smashing work by cutting edge artists. There’s also its moving collection of Native American masterpieces, not to mention paintings by van Gogh and other established masters.


1219 SW Park Avenue, Portland OR 97205. Tel:+1 503 226 2811


Portland Art Museum website


Museum of Contemporary Craft


Founded in the 1930s, the Museum of Contemporary Craft has displayed prominent examples of craft and design as it’s evolved through the years. It’s an excellent place to check out up and coming talent, along with classic examples of furniture, ceramics, glass, and other objects that have defined the design landscape.


724 NW Davis Street, Portland OR 97209. Tel:+1 503 223 2654


Museum of Contemporary Craft website