Portland, OR. The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) hosted its annual gala, where 500 donors joined together in support of increasing accessibility to science education throughout our region. The event on May 13th, was co-chaired by Gary Maffei, Marcus Lintner, Christopher Hall and Jill Hall. It honored David and Christine Vernier of Vernier Software & Technology. Gala attendees were treated to music by The Bylines and a rap written and rhymed by OMSI’s own Michael Wilson and a performance by broadway star, Shoshana Bean. (Photos by Eric DePangher for VEV Studios)
Here’s a history of OMSI:
OMSI began with the exhibition of Oregon’s rich natural resources with the opening of the City Hall Museum in 1896. But with the Great Depression and World War II, it wasn’t until the mid-forties that support for the museum really began to grow. Businessman Ralph Lloyd hosted the temporary “Oregon Museum of Science and Industry” in his house on NE Hassalo Street, boasting the Northwest’s first public planetarium and its 20-minute trip to the stars.
With annual attendance swelling to over 25,000 in 1955 and the house scheduled for demolition, the City Council stepped forward to lease land in Washington Park to OMSI for the sum of one dollar per year. In the spirit of pioneer barn-raisings, over 400 volunteer union brick layers and hod carriers laid 102,000 bricks in one day, and on June 7, 1958, the dream of a dedicated, hands-on science museum became a reality.
By the mid-1980’s, OMSI’s popularity surpassed the size of its facility six times over and a new group of community leaders began a $32M campaign to build a state-of-the-art science center, culminating with a milestone donation from longtime supporter, Portland General Electric, of an 18.5-acre site that held a historic sawdust-fired power generation plant. On October 24, 1992, the new 219,000 square-foot facilities opened, adding the USS Blueback, the last non-nuclear powered submarine built by the U.S. Navy, just two years later.
Today, the museum serves over 1 million visitors at the museum and through off-site education programs. OMSI is ranked as one of the top science centers in the United States and has an international reputation for its innovative exhibits and educational programs.