Forests spread throughout the Oregon coast, intertwining with city and ocean life. These forests are critical to the climate, uniqueness and overall atmosphere of Oregon. Luckily, museums and research centers keep the public knowledgeable about the state’s rich nature.
The World Forestry Center Discovery Museum is one such place. It showcases the Pacific Northwest’s forests, as well as global forests, by providing displays, educational clips, booklets and interactive activities.
The journey of nature exploration begins before even entering the museum. Outside, a large petrified stump—estimated to be around five million years old—greets guests. Covered with small holes and divots, its struggle is evident. When I entered the museum on a December morning, warmth embraced me, contrasting with a typically cold forest.
Upon entering, I met what appeared to be real taxidermic mounts of eagles, owls, a black bear, lynx and deer in the middle of the museum. A table with informative booklets lined the exhibit. Petrified tree stump samples accompanied the table. Dirty, moss-covered rock structures were tucked away in display corners.
The display expanded around most of the room, delving into the underground with bear caves, burrowing owls and weasels. Above, a bridge connected the upstairs. As people walked across it, it sounded like branches falling.
The interactive camera that moved up and down a pole along the layout revealed hidden birds and critters that called the giant fir tree their home. This exhibit explained the harms of deforestation, plantations and the import of exotic animals.
The mushrooms, which I assumed real, sprouted from the tree’s foundation. Real pine cones peeked out of the hedge and ferns surrounding the larger shrub. My fingertips brushed over pine needles and roots. Birds squawked from every corner as if they were hidden in the trees. It was a full-body experience.
Entering a faux forest but receiving the experience of being in a real forest was phenomenal. I don’t particularly like bugs or twigs in my hair, but I enjoy forests and their benefits for the planet.
While deforestation is a real threat to the planet, animals and people, Oregonians care deeply about the trees and their inhabitants, which makes this museum a great attraction.