A Century of Wonder: 100 Years of Oregon State Parks

“Vista House and Columbia River Gorge from Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint.” Photograph by Peter Marbach.

May 13 – October 16, 2022

  • Family-friendly
  • Free for Members
  • Teachers
  • Researchers
  • Handicap Accessible Friendly

Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Ave
Portland, Oregon 97205
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For 100 years, Oregon State Parks have provided spaces for recreation and enjoyment in various natural environments across the state. In celebration of the centennial of the state parks system, the Oregon Historical Society commissioned photographer Peter Marbach to document the beauty and geographic diversity of many of Oregon’s 254 state parks. From Vista House in the Columbia River Gorge to the crashing waves at Shore Acres State Park to climbers ascending a wall at Smith Rock State Park, this exhibit highlights numerous ways that Oregon State Parks have preserved natural and historic sites for Oregonians and visitors to appreciate for many years to come.

The 60 images Marbach captured for this project, a portion of which will be on display in this exhibition, will become a part of the Oregon Historical Society’s permanent collection, furthering future understanding of the past by documenting the present.

Artist Statement from Peter Marbach:

During normal times, creating art on demand can be incredibly challenging. There is no guarantee that on the day I venture out to create an exhibit-worthy image, all the elements of what makes a compelling composition will be present. It can often take days, or many weeks, until warm light, shadows, [and] clouds all align in one decisive moment of unspeakable beauty.

But these are not ordinary times. The anxiety of COVID, extreme weather, smoke from wildfires, and park closures forced me to rise to the moment. This two-year journey taught me much about staying resilient, focused, and determined to not lose faith that I would accomplish what I was asked to do.

It is my hope this exhibit inspires people to seek out the gifts of joy, beauty, and healing that time spent in these treasured parks always provides.

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The Artist Would Like to Thank