The museum has been renting various spaces around Portland for more than 20 years, but will finally be gaining a permanent home in Oldtown.
Executive Director Judy Margles and Board Chair Elaine Coughlin announced the purchase agreement Wednesday for the former location of the Museum of Contemporary Craft at 724 NW Davis Street for about $5 million.
The museum was founded by Rabbi Joshua Stampfer in the late 1980s as a way to educate the public about Jewish art history and heritage by solely bringing in exhibits from other places.
It morphed over the years to focus more on Oregon’s specific Jewish history.
“It’s the first time that this organization, which is 26 years old now, will have this permanent space,” said Margles.
The move will more than double the museum’s space from the current 6,900 square feet to nearly 15,000, according to a news release.
The new space will include a 100-seat auditorium, as well as a gift shop and a small café.
Margles started working for the museum in 2000, and is especially excited about the opportunity for the museum to be able to have permanent exhibits in its new home.
This is something that the museum’s current location does not have the space for, so instead it currently rotates exhibits, some of which do not always have a specific, historical connection to the community.
“We do get visitors in and they say, ‘Oh, you’re the Oregon Jewish Museum, we thought we would learn something about this community,” said Margles.
Margles said that with the new space, she is already planning to have core exhibits about the Jewish experience in Oregon.
“We’re going to do an exhibit about discrimination in Oregon. We’ll do an exhibit about the history of the Holocaust, but through the eyes of our local survivors,” said Margles.
Margles said the goal is for the museum to open in the late spring of 2017.