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News Releases
The Oregon Historical Society Hosts a Fascinating and Important Panel Discussion and Multimedia Exhibition Opening on World Refugee Day, June 20, 2024. (Photo) - 06/11/24

Oregon Historical Society

1200 SW Park Ave., Portland, OR 97205

June 20, 2024 (Noon): Exhibition Opening and Panel Discussion

June 20, 2024 – Nov. 17, 2024 (Exhibition)


The Immigrant Story and the Oregon Historical Society invite you to the grand opening of I Lived to Tell the World, a multimedia exhibition and special panel discussion at the Oregon Historical Society (OHS) in Portland, Oregon.

OHS will host the exhibition opening and panel discussion at noon on World Refugee Day, June 20, 2024, a commemoration designed to draw attention to the plight of the more than 100 million people displaced due to numerous conflicts throughout the world.

Eliza E. Canty-Jones, the society’s chief program officer, will lead the conversation. The panelists include:

  • Samir Mustafic, a Bosnian soldier, arrived in Oregon as a patient in need of reconstructive surgery. 
  • Saron Khut, a child survivor of the killing fields of Cambodia
  • Dr. Dijana Ihas, who, as a member of the Sarajevo String Quartet, performed more than 200 concerts during the three-year siege of Sarajevo.

A question-and-answer session will follow the panel discussion and will include journalist and author Elizabeth Mehren, whose book, I Lived to Tell the World: Stories from Survivors of Holocaust, Genocide, and the Atrocities of War, (Oregon State University Press) provides the title and the inspiration for this event and exhibition. Copies of the book will be available for purchase, and Mehren will be available for book signings after the panel discussion and Q&A. 

The multimedia exhibition, running June 20, 2024, through November 17, 2024, includes the work of Portland photographer Jim Lommasson, who selected objects that these survivors carried with them throughout their journeys and juxtaposed them with handwritten testimonies in the form of stories, memories, poems, and drawings. The exhibit also includes three short films produced by Pacific Northwest documentarians in collaboration with the nonprofit NW Documentary. The films emphasize the individual humanity of genocide survivors, forcing viewers to look beyond cold facts and statistics and confront the immense emotional, spiritual, and physical violence to which these survivors were subjected.

The exhibition opening and panel discussion are free and open to the public.

Images for the story can be downloaded from here.

About The Immigrant Story:

The Immigrant Story is a volunteer-run nonprofit with a mission to foster empathy and build a more inclusive community by sharing stories of immigrants and refugees who often overcame tremendous odds to reach the United States.

About the Oregon Historical Society:

For more than 125 years, the Oregon Historical Society has served as the state’s collective memory, preserving a vast collection of objects, photographs, maps, manuscript materials, books, films, and oral histories. Our research library, museum, digital platforms, educational programming, and historical journal make Oregon’s history open and accessible to all. 

Rivers, Roses, and Rip City: The Remarkable History of Portland, a New Permanent Exhibition at the Oregon Historical Society, Opens June 7 (Photo) - 05/28/24


Press and community members are invited to a special ribbon-cutting ceremony with local leaders on Friday, June 7 at 11am in OHS’s Reser Westphal Pavilion. Please RSVP to Rachel.Randles@ohs.org if you plan to attend or to schedule a preview tour of the exhibition.


High-resolution images for press available at bit.ly/pdxexhibit_presskit

Portland, OR — What defines a city? How has the relationship between people, land, and water made Portland the place it is today? These are some of the questions asked in the Oregon Historical Society’s newest permanent exhibition, Rivers, Roses, and Rip City: The Remarkable History of Portland.

Opening June 7 in the museum’s Naito Family Gallery, this interactive installation will allow visitors to learn about the city’s distinctive landscape, the communities that contribute to the vibrant and dynamic identity of Portland, and the history of activism that has transformed its spaces. 

“While we are the Oregon Historical Society, our headquarters being located in downtown Portland gives us a distinct opportunity and responsibility to share the history of our city,” said OHS Boyle Family Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk. “Our city has a complex, messy, and inspiring history, and our hope is that folks will walk away from this exhibition with a greater understanding of this city’s past, context for our present, and how each of us can help shape Portland’s future.”

With the flip of a coin, two American businessmen gave Portland its name, but its history is a much more complex story. For hundreds of years, Portland’s location and industries have attracted a multiethnic population who have made it their home. Decisions about how land and water are used, who controls resources, and who benefits from these choices have shaped Portland into the city we know today.

The beauty and economic potential of the city’s land and water draws people to Portland. Indigenous people have stewarded the land since time immemorial. Trappers and settlers arrived in the region in increasing numbers beginning with the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805. Newcomers chose the area at the meeting of two large rivers, the Columbia and Willamette, to become the industrial and population center of what is now known as Oregon.

Inside the exhibition, 500 objects, images, and archival materials from the Oregon Historical Society’s museum and research library collections convey the fascinating events and histories of the Rose City. Interactive elements will test visitors’ knowledge of Portland trivia, provide opportunities to see or hear sporting events or performances, and share areas of cultural interest within local neighborhoods.

This exhibition reveals the countless ways Portlanders come together — over events like the Rose Festival, a Trail Blazers’ win, or the blossoming of cherry trees — to create and celebrate community. 

“For visitors and residents alike, Rivers, Roses, and Rip City celebrates what makes Portland unique,” said Tymchuk.

The Oregon Historical Society’s museum is open daily in downtown Portland, from 10am to 5pm Monday through Saturday and 12pm to 5pm on Sunday. Admission is free every day for OHS members and residents of Multnomah County. Learn more and plan your visit at ohs.org/visit.

About the Oregon Historical Society

For 125 years, the Oregon Historical Society has served as the state’s collective memory, preserving a vast collection of objects, photographs, maps, manuscript materials, books, films, and oral histories. Our research library, museum, digital platforms, educational programming, and historical journal make Oregon’s history open and accessible to all.We exist because history is powerful, and because a history as deep and rich as Oregon’s cannot be contained within a single story or point of view.