PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Children’s Museum, a staple of the community for 75 years, will close its doors permanently on June 30.
The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdowns were “devastating” for attendance and revenue, which heavily relies on paid admissions to the interactive museum, officials said in a press release Thursday night announcing the closure. The museum said costs to reopen were insurmountable.
“This was an incredibly difficult decision for the board,” said David Peterson, board chair of the museum. “We’ve all experienced so many wonderful memories at the museum with our loved ones, and we are forever grateful to the vibrant community of play that the museum and Opal School have cultivated during these last 75 years. Its lasting impact will live on through the creativity of countless families, children, educators, artists and musicians who called Portland Children’s Museum and Opal School their second home.”
Parents, grandparents and child caregivers hearing news of the pending closure for the first time were shocked.
"I am very sad to hear that the children's museum is closing," said Cathy Campbell, a grandmother who remembers taking her two children to the museum's original location.
Liz Gillman, a nanny caring for two toddlers at the playground in Washington Park, said she's been to different children's museums in other cities and Portland's is her favorite.
"I think it would be a huge loss to the city," said Gillman. "OMSI is really the only children's museum in the city, but it's not meant for kids this age."
Opal School, a tuition-funded early childhood program and public elementary school, has been part of the museum since 2001. It has served more than 500 students and 10,000 educators over the past 20 years.
“Portland Children’s Museum is a special place and is the only children's museum in North America to incorporate a research center, an onsite preschool and onsite K-5 charter school,” said Tom Kelly, longtime supporter and friend of the museum. “I do hope that in the future our region will once again have a place where these innovative practices in education are shared alongside a museum where children and families can learn and play together.”
The Portland Children’s Museum, which sits in Washington Park near the Oregon Zoo, opened in 1946 and has welcomed 4.8 million visitors through its 75-year history, museum officials said. The museum recently hosted more than 250,000 visitors a year.
Staff will spend the next few months winding down the organization and donating supplies to mission-aligned nonprofits in the community.