Portland’s Art Scene Alive and Well at the Oregon Convention Center

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Got art? Portland, Oregon, sure does.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I visited family in Portland and carved out some time to explore museums, street food vendors, hip urban wineries and the Oregon Convention Center (OCC). I knew all about OCC’s notoriety as LEED Platinum-certified, but had no idea that there were so many pieces of artwork adorning the largest convention center in the Pacific Northwest.

Located on the Willamette River, the OCC features twin, glass spires that stand as city landmarks while providing natural light throughout the nearly 1,000,000-square-foot venue. Among the more than two dozen works of art in the convention center is the world’s largest Foucault pendulum that swings above a fantasy solar system painted on the floor. It’s totally mesmerizing watching the large golden ball swing from side to side, barely missing a golden halo that seemingly sets the pendulum’s boundary.

Mainly produced by Pacific Northwest artists, the collection is valued at more than $2 million and is known as one of the most varied convention center art programs in the United States. Since 1975, the Oregon Percent for Art legislation requires that 1 percent of the cost of construction projects be earmarked for artwork.Portland Secondary Image 1

The OCC is a shining example of how the Percent for Art legislation supports art and culture, making Portland an even cooler place to visit and meet than I realized. The convention center is like a modern art museum with regional insights. There’s a 40-foot Chinese dragon boat suspended from the ceiling, accenting the city’s dragon boat races held each June during the Rose Festival. River Song is a 44-foot wide painting the features images of fish and cascading waters. Several pieces reflect the region’s Native American influences.

Portland’s artwork is hardly restricted to the convention center. Throughout Portland’s central districts, there are more than 100 pieces of artwork on corners, within city parks and inside public buildings. And that’s not including art displayed in Portland’s many museums.

Meet in Portland for its spacious, sustainable convention center and practices. But attendees will long remember the artwork that will help them experience firsthand Portland’s creativity and imagination.

To learn more about meeting cities in the Pacific Northwest, click here to read our Oregon-Washington destination story in the December issue of Smart Meetings magazine.