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History museum embodies the culture of the Oregon coast

The barnlike structure comprises 15,000 sf of space.

December 12, 2017 |
The Coos History Museum and Maritime Collection

Photo courtesy of Signal Architecture & Research

With a collection of over 250,000 historic photographs and artifacts of agrarian and maritime culture of the Oregon Coast, the Coos History Museum and Maritime Collection had outgrown its previous home.

In 2000, a grant initiated a search for a new facility, but the grant stipulated the new museum be located on Highway 101 to provide a development catalyst for the historic wharf at Coos Bay. The museum’s new site is on the wharf at the gateway to Coos Bay with historic docks on the east, a cove to the south, and the historic roadway to the west. A future development will eventually rise to the north.

The goal for the design of the museum, which bridges the history of the region through stories of the Coos and Coquille Tribes, coal miners, loggers, farmers, and shipbuilders, was to create a building that paid tribute to the past while serving as a beacon for change along the waterfront.


The Coos History Museum and Maritime CollectionPhoto courtesy of Signal Architecture & Research.


The resulting building has a simple barnlike form inspired by waterfront industrial facilities. A light well pierces the barn-shaped volume and provides a visual cue for circulation, stairs, and a central focal point from highway 101. A gift shop, multi-purpose space, and a large gallery are located on the ground floor. The second floor is dedicated to staff and volunteer offices, boardrooms, archives, and travelling gallery mezzanine. A stair tower serves as a repository for tall exhibits that require a 40-foot-tall exhibit space.

Miller Hull Partnership was the Architect of Record for the project and Signal Architecture & Research was the Project Design Lead.

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