50 Years in the MakingJune 1, 2015
A love of craftsmanship and woodworking seem to run in Merlyn Lewis’s family. Merlyn helped restore Pittock Mansion 1964-65, and this year his grandson, Rob Lewis, worked with the Rose Festival to create the new Clown Prince scepter.
As a nod to Henry and Georgiana’s roles in forming the Rose Society and the Rose Festival, Rob used a piece of wood left over from Pittock Mansion’s restoration (see the blonde wood near Merlyn’s hand). Merlyn had the wood in his woodshop scrap pile for over 50 years before the scrap found its home in the new Clown Prince scepter.
KPTV anchor Laura Rillos-Wood met Merlyn and Rob at the mansion to preview the new Clown Prince scepter and interview Merlyn about his time working on the mansion over 50 years ago. As Merlyn and Laura toured the house, Merlyn shared memories of his experience working on the restoration.
Sneak a Peek at Pittock Mansion’s Permanent Exhibit EnhancementsMarch 2, 2015
Has it been a while since you visited the Pittock?
It’s time for another visit! Our all-new interpretive exhibit panels, interactive elements, and multi-sensory features await you!
Visit our facebook page for a sneak peek at just some of the exciting new features.
New Admissions Area is a “Welcome” Addition to Pittock MansionFebruary 25, 2015
Sunday, February 1st, Pittock Mansion opened for its 2015 season after a month of annual maintenance.
In addition to the usual dusting and polishing of all 16,000 square feet of the mansion, this January staff were busy perfecting a new admissions area created in the previously unused 3rd bay of the garage.
The new ticketing area and entry experience, designed by local firm Alchemy of Design with input from our Visitor Services staff, was one of the recommendations from the plan developed in 2012 to improve the visitor experience overall. The specialized admissions area will alleviate congestion in the mansion foyer and create a transition between purchasing tickets and experiencing the Pittock.
In addition to being a dedicated space for welcoming visitors, the admissions area also tells the story of the garage’s past and touches on early 1900’s transportation in Portland. The Pittock’s kept their car, a 1912 Pierce Arrow, in the three-bay garage which included its own 500-gallon gas tank, mechanic’s pit, and an apartment upstairs for staff. Like many wealthy families, the Pittocks employed a chauffeur, Herman Hawkinson. From 1914 until 1918, he provided transport for Georgiana Pittock.
The admissions area project is just the latest in improvements around the Pittock. In October 2014 we installed our improved wayfinding signs on the grounds and indoors, upgraded the permanent exhibit, and increased visitor engagement by adding multi-sensory and interactive elements in the exhibits.
Stay tuned throughout 2015 for more improvements to Pittock Mansion’s museum experience!
Preserving the Past, Strategizing for the Future: Pittock Mansion’s Centennial Year in ReviewJanuary 15, 2015
Pittock Mansion’s Centennial Year has come to a successful close! Beginning in February with 8,000 visitors during our Centennial launch free admission days and ending with a busy holiday season, Pittock Mansion has grown with momentum impressive for a centenarian.
In July, Centennial festivities continued with a 100th Birthday Celebration. The community visited the house on the hill to stroll the gardens, view vintage cars, listen to music, and eat cake. Even the unseasonal summer rain could not dampen the festivities!
Our once-in-a-lifetime Centennial Soirée treated a sold-out crowd to a locally-inspired meal on the lawn amid live music and breathtaking views of downtown Portland. Guests made wonderful memories of Pittock Mansion and a number joined the Henry’s 100 giving circle to support Pittock Mansion’s upcoming museum activities.
While the Centennial Year provided an occasion to celebrate Pittock Mansion’s (and the city of Portland’s) past century, it was also an opportunity to strategically position the mansion for its next 100 years. In line with Henry Pittock’s spirit of innovation and reinvention, we implemented numerous enhancements to make Pittock Mansion more accessible, meaningful, and interactive for visitors. We began with improving wayfinding signs on the grounds and indoors, upgrading the permanent exhibit, and increasing visitor engagement by adding multi-sensory and interactive elements in the exhibits. Visitors can now play with a stereoscope, hear recorded piano music in the music room, smell gingerbread in the kitchen, and see dozens of historic photos of the Pittock family and the city of Portland.
Looking forward to Pittock Mansion’s next century, we will repurpose the 3rd bay of the garage from storage space to a welcoming admissions area that will open at the start of our 2015 season. This will alleviate congestion in the foyer and create a transition between purchasing tickets and experiencing the historic home.
Throughout 2015 and beyond we will work to update and improve the Pittock Mansion website to give visitors access to more in-depth information and additional resources through online technology.
We had ambitious goals for Pittock Mansion’s Centennial Year. We welcomed just over 90,000 visitors, grew to 830 members, and gained 84 supporters at our new Henry’s 100 giving level. Our bold new communications outreach spawned original content from Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) that both emphasized Pittock Mansion’s link to Portland’s history and reached a new demographic. Our visitor experience improvements reshaped how we engage visitors.
Together we have helped sustain Pittock Mansion for its next 100 years through increased community support and targeted restoration efforts.
We sincerely thank everyone who helped us reach our Centennial goals and made Pittock Mansion’s Centennial Year a success!
Enhancing the Visitor ExperienceNovember 5, 2014
A visit to Pittock Mansion has become more enjoyable and engaging thanks to our Visitor Experience Project. The project will increase Pittock Mansion’s value to our community in three phases by encouraging visitors to actively engage with history by sharing more relevant, poignant and consistent stories.
The first phase of the project, wayfinding sign enhancements, was completed in October 2014. These signs make Pittock Mansion easier to find and easier to navigate between the parking lot, park grounds and buildings.
In the second phase, we enhanced the permanent exhibit by installing new interpretive exhibit panels, interactive elements, and multi-sensory features. Working with a local exhibit design firm, we have creatively woven compelling stories throughout the mansion and gate lodge, such as: what was Portland like in 1914, and how does that relate to today; what new technologies were built into house; and what values did the Pittocks have that are shared by Portlanders today.
In 2015, the unused third bay of the garage will be transformed into a welcoming admissions area. The current admissions and entry often gets crowded and allows no transition from buying a ticket to enjoying the historic house. By early next year, we will use the space inside the third bay to provide orientation information and sell admission tickets. On the walls we will share information about the garage (like the fact that it had a 500-gallon gas tank and a mechanic’s pit), the Pittocks (like the fact that they were pioneers who came west on the Oregon Trail, worked hard, were active members of the community and built this house), and upcoming programs and events.
The third phase, which we will work on through 2016, will give visitors access to more detailed information and additional resources through technology. These tools will allow visitors who are inspired by the mansion’s main exhibits to further probe Portland’s history, tracing the values, achievements and characters that link the Pittock family’s era to Portland today.
We’re pleased that as we develop and implement these improvements, we’ve also secured several grants. Currently, over $83,000 have been committed to support our efforts, including funds from the Oregon Cultural Trust and the Jackson Foundation.
“I am excited and proud of the work we’re doing and look forward to seeing how visitors respond and interact with the new exhibit elements,” remarks Executive Director Marta Bones with a smile. “Please come see for yourself and let us know what you think.”