Opened in 1969 the Douglas County Museum was designed by architect Howard Backen, who had grown up in Roseburg, as a modern interpretation of agricultural prune drying buildings which were common a century ago in the Umpqua Valley.
The Douglas County Museum has been collecting, preserving and exhibiting natural and cultural history items for more than 50 years.
From the snow capped peak of Mt. Thielsen in the Cascades Mountain Range, through the Umpqua River Valley, then over the Coastal Mountain Range, to the crashing surf of the Pacific Ocean at Winchester Bay, Douglas County traverses an amazingly wide range of elevations and environments. Defined by the watershed basin of the Umpqua River system: North and South Umpquas, and their merger to form the Main Umpqua, Douglas County’s ecological diversity is showcased in Oregon’s largest natural history exhibition – The Land of the Umpquas’.
Home to humans for more than 10,000 years, the valley is named for the Umpqua Tribe that still calls this area home. Over the past two centuries they have been joined by fur trappers, naturalists and explorers, eastern missionaries, gold prospectors, pioneer families, loggers, farmers, and fishermen. Their epic story is told through cultural artifacts ranging from prehistoric spear points and expertly woven baskets, to family quilts brought over the Oregon Trail and the last standing depot of the Oregon & California Railroad. Being at the heart of a natural resource based economy, the Museum pays special attention to the history of mining, fishing, farming, and timber harvesting in Douglas County.
Oregon’s largest natural history collection is on display at the Douglas County Museum. More than 7,500 items are used to help tell the ancient and contemporary stories of the Umpqua River Valley. In addition, DCM houses one of the Northwest’s most comprehensive plant collections in its research herbarium with nearly 3,000 catalogued specimens.
The historical artifact collection is one of the most extensive in the state with over 8,640 items that illustrate area history. The Museum holds Oregon’s second largest historic photograph collection with more than 24,000 images going back as early as the mid 19th century.
The Museum also provides public access to research materials for those who are interested in the people, places and events of Douglas County. Through the Lavola Bakken Research Library, public access is granted for a wide array of printed materials including books, manuscripts, photos, newspapers, and much more.
Naturalist David Douglas traveled the Columbia River and interior Northwest (1825-1833), identifying and collecting over two hundred species of plants, animals, and birds previously unknown to science. The Douglas fir bears his namesake.
Contact the Douglas County Museum
For more information or to become a volunteer, please contact us.