Black in Oregon: 1840-1870 exhibition
A view of the “Black in Oregon: 1840-1870” exhibition at the Philomath Museum. (Photo courtesy of Mark Tolonen)

The two newest exhibitions at the Philomath Museum are ready to be viewed by the public … but continuing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have kept the front door locked and the shows will have a delayed opening.

Personally, I’ve been anticipating the “Black in Oregon: 1840-1870” exhibition. Mark Tolonen, curator of exhibitions, said it is scheduled to remain in place until Feb. 20. But for now, we just have to hope that the virus metrics improve so places like museums can open back up.

I’ve been hearing about the “Black in Oregon” exhibition for over a month now (I wrote a column about it in late December) and Zachary Stocks of the Oregon Black Pioneer organization recorded a message to Philomath. The city’s Inclusivity Ad Hoc Committee deserves a shout-out for helping bring the exhibition to town, along with generous underwriters Cecily Feudo and Janet Nishihara. 

Black in Oregon was originally created for display at the Oregon State Archives Building and highlights the lives of black pioneers who came to Oregon between 1840 and 1870. This incarnation of the exhibition features artifacts and photos from the Benton County Historical Society collection, some of which have never been publicly displayed.

No Shrinking Violets exhibition
“No Shrinking Violets” is a juried quilt exhibition featuring fiber arts by the artists of High Fiber Diet. (Photo courtesy of Mark Tolonen)

The other show awaiting its opening is called, “No Shrinking Violets” — a juried quilt exhibition featuring fiber arts by the artists of High Fiber Diet (fiber and fabric artists of Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington) with a prevalent color of purple.

Here’s more insight from a press release that Tolonen sent to me:

“Purple is passionate, opulent, over-the-top, regal, assertive, luxurious, mysterious, expensive and fantastical. It’s the color of women’s suffrage, Roman emperors, noble sacrifice in battle, as well as the color of princes and wizards.”

The quilt exhibition will be in place through Feb. 27.

Tolonen said that when the museum is able to reopen, visitors will need to wear masks and respect social distancing guidelines. I’ll pass along news of when the museum plans to open but if you want to call, the number is 541-929-6230.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at