Salem Offers Art and History to Entrance and Entertain

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Waldo Stewards Mural at Chemeketa Parkade

Waldo Stewards Mural at Chemeketa Parkade

​Does the long Thanksgiving weekend, or upcoming winter break, present a challenge on how to keep your family active and occupied? We have a few ideas that may help.

While many indoor attractions may be closed due to the COVID-19 freeze, the great outdoors is still open. In Salem, that not only means parks and recreation, it also means art and history.

Salem Public Art

From Robert Hess' Great Blue Heron in the reflecting pond at Salem Civic Center to Damien Gilly's Mirror Maze at Liberty Plaza, downtown Salem is rich with public art.

Use the Salem Public Art Collection web page to navigate the outdoor art opportunities. Or check out Salem's Public Art Treasure Hunt that adds a little mystery to your quest. 

Public Art Treasure Hunt 

You also won't want to miss the Salem Convention Center's Sculpture Garden, home to an eclectic variety of works, such as "Vertebra: Time Wave Zero," by David Haslett; "Cien Años," (One Hundred Years) by Devin Laurence Field; and "Breathing Post," by Pete Beeman.

Some works in the collection are reflective of the natural bounty of Oregon, including the homage to Gov. Tom McCall,  "Bronze Fly Fisherman," by Rip Caswell; "Salmon in the City," a collaborative work of local artists; and "In a Quiet Meadow," by Delbert Hodges.

While some of the public works of art in Salem were donated, any public improvement project in the City dedicates one-half of one percent of its funding to public art, helping building this collection.

Salem History Tours

Exploring Salem means exploring a community rich in history. This spot along the Willamette River has drawn people since before the resident Kalapuya tribe called the area Chim-i-ki-ti, meaning "meeting or resting place." In the 19th century, The fertile bottom land of the Willamette Valley beckoned settlers from across a continent to start new lives here.

Start your historic tour by downloading a copy of the Salem Walking Tour Map. Start at the Mission Mill Museum, part of the Willamette Heritage Center, one of several buildings on the tour that are on the National Register of Historic Places. Then take a side trip over to the Salem Railroad Station, also on the National Register. From there, wind through Willamette University and its many historic buildings, before heading west along State Street NE past the United Methodist Church (on the National Register) and Hubbard Building, a local landmark. Loop back toward the east on Court Street NE to take in the Marion County Courthouse, the historic site of Eugene Breyman's home, the Oregon State Capitol, and other attractions, before returning to your starting point.

If that whets your appetite for more, go to the Salem Heritage Network website and use their curated photos to guide tours of Historic Downtown Salem, Historic Grant Neighborhood, and Riverfront Park. On our website, you'll also find a map of Historic Buildings of Salem, which includes four historic districts and many other historic buildings. It can help spur even more exploration.

Contact us

Monday–Friday
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
555 Liberty ST SE RM 220
Salem OR 97301
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