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P.O. Box 35
Philomath, OR 97370
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Museum Hours:
Tuesday - Saturday
10:00am - 4:30pm

Take a look at the art of Oregon

Gazette-Times reporter

150 Years of Oregon Art: statue of President Lincoln's Cabinet of War by Fairbanks Painting "Joe Harrod" by Harry Bennett Sculpture "Waiting for Berkeley" by Wayne Taysom

PHILOMATH - Sharon Goldstein strolled through the upstairs gallery at the Benton County Historical Museum, pausing at each artwork. A bold painting of a farm scene caught her eye.

"We live in Kings Valley, and this sort of represents that," Goldstein said, gesturing to the Edward Sewall painting.

The museum's new art exhibit, 150 years of Oregon Art, includes captured images of the coast, Columbia River Gorge and countryside and wildlife sculptures.

"These are really nice," Goldstein said.

Her husband's favorite artwork didn't automatically scream "Oregon," however. "Waiting for Berkeley," by former Oregon State University faculty member Wayne Taysom, is a whimsical but energetic metal sculpture of a seated woman.

150 Years of Oregon Art museum exhibition photo by Andy Cripe/ Gazette-Times
Andy Cripe/Gazette-Times
David and Sharon Goldstein of Kings Valley look at the Benton County Historical Museum's new art exhibit, 150 years of Oregon Art, Thursday afternoon.
The exhibit celebrating Oregon's sesquicentennial runs through Feb. 28.

The exhibit, which runs through Feb. 28, celebrates Oregon's sesquicentennial. It was nearly 150 years ago, on Feb. 14, 1859, that Oregon was admitted to the union as the nation's 33rd state.

Most of the pieces in the exhibit were created by artists with Corvallis connections, such as William Ball, who founded Ball Studio in Corvallis, said Irene Zenev, executive director of the Benton County Historical Society and Museum.

Many of the artists featured were connected with Oregon State University, including

  • John Leo Fairbanks, for whom Fairbanks Hall is named, was a professor of art and architecture. He chaired the art department at Oregon State College from 1923 to 1946, when he died.
  • Gordon Gilkey, an internationally recognized art luminary whose 30-plus years on the OSU faculty included service as chairman of the art department and dean of the liberal arts program. Gilkey Hall is named for him. He died in 2000.
  • Paul Gunn, a prominent artist noted for his "Northwest School" of artistic style and a professor of art at OSU for 43 years. He served eight years as chairman of the department, retiring in 1991. He died in 2002.
The museum has collected the work of Benton County artists since the early 1980s, but the recent acquisition of the Horner Collection gave it a treasure trove of artwork from throughout the 20th century, Zenev said. That collection was part of a museum at OSU, but was mothballed in the 1990s due to budget cuts.

Several paintings aren't owned by the museum but are federal property. They were created during the Great Depression through the Public Works of Art Program within the Treasury Department, Zenev said. The Horner Museum received the items to curate them.

The museum also has a series of lectures that will explore what Oregon was like in 1859. They are scheduled to begin Monday, Feb. 23. Check the museum's Web site and click on the "events" link in February for more details about the time and subsequent dates.

This year also marks the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln. From 7 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 10, the museum will hold a town hall. An actor portraying Lincoln will preside over the meeting.

Kyle Odegard can be contacted at or 758-9523.

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© 2008 - 2014 Benton County Historical Society & Museum
Philomath, Oregon
The Benton County Historical Society is a nonprofit corporation that operates museum facilities for the preservation of history and culture.  Its mission is to:

  1. Preserve the material and intellectual culture of Benton County, Oregon, by acquiring and caring for significant collections that illustrate and interpret the history of the area and its relationship to the world;
  2. Enrich people's lives through exhibitions and educational programs.