Founded in 1937 as the Oregon Ceramic Studio, the Museum of Contemporary Craft is the oldest continuously-running craft institution in the United States. Created by a group of dynamic volunteers led by Lydia Herrick Hodge, the Studio was created to provide support for regional artists in financial distress because of the Depression. In response to this need, the founders created a place where innovative exhibitions, a sales gallery, education programs for children and the largest kiln on the West Coast came together in a single, volunteer-run organization.
The Oregon Ceramic Studio was built with donated materials by Works Progress Administration (WPA) labor. During its early years – before becoming Contemporary Crafts Gallery in 1965, Contemporary Crafts Museum & Gallery in 2002 and then Museum of Contemporary Craft in 2007 – the Oregon Ceramic Studio hosted exhibitions and participated in design campaigns crucial to the cultivation of the Northwest’s legacy of craft. From day one, this vital organization contributed to the advancement of craft and has regularly shown and documented the work of artists from the Pacific Northwest as well as those of national acclaim.
Today, what was the Studio is now Museum of Contemporary Craft in partnership with Pacific Northwest College of Art. In 2007, the Museum moved from its original home of 70 years on SW Corbett Avenue to a new facility in Portland’s Pearl District. By opening a modern museum space in Portland’s most active arts neighborhood, the Pearl District, Museum of Contemporary Craft has added significant vitality and critical mass for the visual arts in the city’s urban core. In 2009, the Museum integrated with Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA), making the joint institution one of the largest organizations devoted to the visual arts in the state of Oregon.
Unpacking the Collection
The first publication to document Museum of Contemporary Craft’s collection, exhibition history and its connections to dramatic changes in artistic practice over the past seventy years, Unpacking the Collection is available for purchase online or in The Gallery at Museum of Contemporary Craft.