: Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

Where to See Art in the Portland Region

December 18, 2019

What are the odds that you could walk onto a bustling urban college campus and stroll right into a brand-new art museum to take in the work of world-renowned artists for free? Actually pretty good, now that the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at Portland State University is open. 

Made possible in part thanks to a $5 million donation from Portland businessman and art aficionado Jordan Schnitzer, the new museum is in PSU’s revamped and rechristened Fariborz Maseeh Hall. It occupies about 7,500 square feet across two floors. “I think Jordan really feels strongly that PSU needed a museum of art where people could come and view art and really have a relationship with it,” says Linda Tesner, interim director for the museum. “It’s just fantastic to have another art experience in downtown Portland that anyone can be a part of.”

Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at Portland State University

At present, the museum’s two tidy, contemporary floors have been sprinkled with 50 works from Schnitzer’s extensive collection in an exhibit called “Art for All,” which runs through Feb. 15, 2020. Curated by Tesner, the 50-piece exhibit spotlights a collection that is as diverse in its mediums as it is in the artists behind the works. There are prints, paintings, etchings, photographs, sculptures and more, largely from artists of color.

Among the exhibit’s standout pieces are Enrique Chagoya’s “Illegal Alien’s Guide to Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” a provocative map touching on the immigration experience, and Jun Kaneko’s “Untitled, Heads,” two cast-bronze heads that seemingly stare at each other in an endless standoff.   

Jun Kaneko’s “Untitled, Heads”

“The ‘Art for All’ theme was basically an attempt to think about a range of works that might resonate with any person who might come into the museum,” Tesner says, adding that “Art for All” also serves as a motto for the new museum. Two more exhibits planned for March 15 through May 16, 2020 will divide the space once “Art for All” ends in mid-February. Upstairs will be a showing of the work of Arvie Smith, an African American painter whose work takes on racism and social justice, while the main floor will be home to artist Daniel Duford’s “John Brown’s Vision on the Scaffold.” 

The museum is the third to bear Schnitzer’s name; you can also visit the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon in Eugene and another in Washington state. Tesner says the PSU museum is already quite popular. “Students come and go constantly, so people are regularly stopping in,” she says. “It’s clear the community is embracing it very warmly.” The PSU museum is open and free to the public Tuesday through Saturday, accessible via bus or light rail.

Lake Oswego Gallery Without Walls (Photo by: oregonmthoodterritory.com)

Here’s where to find more art throughout the Portland Region: 


The grand dame of the Rose City art scene, the Portland Art Museum has a collection that tops 50,000 objects, including American, Asian and European art. PAM’s exhibits span the spectrum and often highlight the work of diverse artists. One current example, “Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal,” is a retrospective of the young black artist’s work confronting racism, violence and injustice. It runs through Jan. 12, 2020. Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, located in a former bowling alley, has become a Portland favorite since its founding in 2000. The nonprofit offers a curator-in-residence program, as well as rotating exhibits, student showings and the Portland Biennial, a survey of Oregon artists defining the contemporary art scene. While the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about art, it’s actually home to an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, photographs and books. The museum almost always has an art exhibit as part of its rotating roster, as well. 

Lake Oswego

The Arts Council of Lake Oswego has become well known for its Gallery Without Walls,” an outdoor sculpture exhibit that includes 80 works on display throughout this Portland suburb. Grab a map and stroll through downtown Lake Oswego and beyond to take it in. 


Portland’s westside neighbor has a vibrant art scene thanks to galleries like Art On Broadway and the Beaverton Arts Foundation, which helps support local artists. What’s more, the foundation has spearheaded a successful effort to make the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts a future reality.


This city’s art committee makes art a big part of town with its “Murals in Milwaukie” program, the sculpture garden at City Hall and the monthly artists series it stages at City Hall, which includes special receptions during the city’s First Friday events. 


Oregon’s fourth-largest city celebrates the arts every summer with its annual Gresham Arts Festival, which brings together more than 150 artists along the historic downtown streets.

About The

Jon Bell
Jon Bell is an Oregon writer and author of the book, On Mount Hood: A Biography of Oregon’s Perilous Peak. He writes about the outdoors, travel, business, the environment and many other areas from his home in Lake Oswego, where he lives with his wife, two children and black Lab.

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