Mobile Museum

Elementary students in a circle playing Mobile Museum bone game for Washington County Museum.Touching History Mobile Museum brings the Washington County Museum to your classroom, community center, or neighborhood group. The Museum offers informative presentations on topics of local history, taught by professional educators. Using a kit of artifacts from the museum’s collection, presenters demonstrate how the objects were used in the context of the lives of the people who used them. Specifics on how the Mobile Museum works, Lesson Plans, Mobile Museum scheduling is available below.

Mobile Museum Presentations

The following Touching History Mobile Museum presentations are available for your classroom or group.

Atfalati-Kalapuya: First People of Washington County

cowlitzbasketExplore the lives of the indigenous people of the Tualatin Valley, the Atfalati branch of the Kalapuya tribe. Learn how the Atfalati dressed, their customs, what they ate, where they lived and how they used their natural resources. See—and touch—furs, stone tools, baskets, and more. This program is an exciting way for students to explore the history of Native Americans in their region and the past of their community.

Braceros: The Men of Migrant Labor

In 1942, faced with a labor crisis, the United States turned to Mexico for help. The Bracero Program was born. While American men were fighting in WWII, the Braceros traveled to Oregon and other states, under a treaty with Mexico, to help farmers bring in their crops. Trace the migration of a Bracero, examine historic photographs and investigate artifacts.

Chinook: Master Traders of the Northwest

canoe_2The “Wapato Lowlands” – the region on the lower Columbia River with Sauvie Island at its heart – was once one of the richest, most densely settled areas north of Mexico and the home of the Chinook people. Learn how the area’s natural resources, including salmon, provided the Chinook with great wealth. Practice words of the Chinook trade language, appreciate historic Native American cultures through a trade game and explore objects including furs, cedar bark tools and stone artifacts.

On the Oregon Trail

5WMBF00Z_optLearn about decisions emigrants faced before their journey began, how their views changed as the trip progressed, and what they settled down to do once they reached the “promised land.” Barter for goods and touch trail artifacts to get a greater sense of the their courageous lives.

School Days

Explore past and present through the lens of Washington County’s historic schoolhouses, circa 1880. Local pioneer classrooms offer a unique window into our region’s early settlers, allowing students to explore changes in communities and education over time. Students explore local historic photos, hear stories of experiences in one room schoolhouses, participate in a lesson using slates, and explore a variety of pioneer toys.

Lewis and Clark: The Science of Discovery

When Lewis and Clark pushed their boats into the Missouri River in May of 1804, the Corps of Discovery was launched. Examine methods of travel and tools of navigation, including a hands-on activity exploring compasses. Learn about the flora, fauna and physical features they discovered along the way, the Native Americans they interacted with and the impact of this historic trek on the history of our area.

How Mobile Museum Works

To create a highly successful visit, there are a few organizational items to consider before contacting the Education Registrar.

  1. Each presentation is one hour long.
  2. The presentation cost is $90 per group. Fees may decrease for multiple presentations.
  3. For school groups the presentation will be divided into two parts. The first half will be an interactive talk lead by one of our Outreach Educators. For the second half, students will rotate in small groups through hands-on learning stations related to the topic.
  4. Community Groups, please follow this link to learn more.
  5. For school groups, the number of participants per presentation is limited to a normal class size (approx. 30 students.) This allows for maximum hands-on learning time.
  6. We are happy to schedule up to three of the same presentations on one school day to accommodate multiple classes in a school’s grade level.
  7. If your school chooses multiple presentations, Outreach Educators need to set-up in one central location and have groups rotate in to see them.
  8. Set-up takes approx. 30 minutes before the first presentation.
  9. Outreach Educators will need a large 6-8ft table in the presentation area, and 2-3 tables (can be smaller) are helpful for the activity stations.
  10. A 10-15 minute break between presentations is ideal. If there is a third presentation, there should be a 20-30 minute break for lunch.

Behavioral Expectations: In order to have a smooth presentation, we remind instructors that a certified teacher MUST be in the classroom during the entire presentation. Teachers will be asked to help monitor one or more of the rotating activity stations during the second half of the presentation. Museum Educators defer to the classroom teacher’s classroom management and behavior codes.

Photo Policy: Photographs may be taken during presentations; however, we request that our presentations (and stations) not be videotaped.

Presentation Gaps: WCM is able to offer reduced pricing when gaps between presentations are kept under 60 minutes, because of reduced overhead for set-up and clean-up time. Therefore, when a gap longer than 60 minutes between multiple presentations on the same day cannot be avoided, the tiered pricing may not be available.

Room Changes: Due to the number of materials used in our presentations and the set-up time necessary for the hands-on stations, we regret that presenters are unable to change rooms between presentations. All presentations taking place on a single day must be accommodated within one space. We appreciate your understanding.

Schedule a Mobile Museum Presentation

To schedule a Mobile Museum presentation, please fill out the contact form below. Our Education Registrar will respond to you within 24 hours.

Lesson Plans and Curriculum Standards

The Washington County Museum’s education programs meet Oregon Department of Education Academic Content Standards. To assist you in aligning a presentation with your curriculum, we offer downloadable Educational Alignment by Program (PDF) and Educational Alignment by Grade Level (PDF) documents.

We have also created a follow-up activity for most Touching History Mobile Museum topics.


Schools will be invoiced when their registration is completed. To pay by check, please make check payable to “Washington County Museum” or “WCM” and send payments to the following mailing address:
Washington County Museum
3300 NW 185th Ave, Ste. 260
Portland, OR 97229