Salem Art Fair & Festival ~ Photo by Ron Cooper
Elsinore Theatre ~ Salem, Oregon ~ Photo by Ron Cooper

Take in art, theater and culture near Salem, Oregon

Whether it’s colorful artwork, musical performances or live theater, you’ll find a variety of intimate venues and vibrant performances in the Mid-Willamette Valley.

One of Oregon’s oldest and most magnificent theaters is located in the heart of Salem. First opened in 1926, the Elsinore Theatre was designed to resemble the castle in “Hamlet,” Shakespeare’s greatest drama. Today, this beautifully restored theater serves as the backdrop for a wide array of performances, from well-known singers and A-list comedians to dance troupes and variety shows. You can also take in a classic film at the Elsinore most Wednesday evenings.

Art lovers won’t want to miss the The Hallie Ford Museum of Art - Oregon’s third largest art museum. Located in downtown Salem, this gem of a museum features a permanent collection of more than 6,000 artifacts as well as beautifully curated temporary exhibitions. The museum is open six days a week with free admission on Tuesdays.

Set in a rustic playhouse, the Pentacle Theatre in Salem offers live theater in an intimate setting. The volunteer theater hosts performances throughout the year, including renditions of “Spamalot” and “A Christmas Carol.”

Many talented artists make their home in the beautiful Mid-Willamette Valley, and their work is proudly displayed at galleries around the region. Peruse artwork from the Pacific Northwest in three separate galleries at Bush Barn Art Center in historic Bush’s Pasture Park. The center regularly hosts art talks, workshops and events, including the annual Salem Art Fair & Festival in July.

The World Beat Gallery in downtown Salem shares artifacts and materials from local ethnic communities. The World Beat Festival takes place each summer at Salem’s Riverfront Park and features a variety of cultural exhibits and performances.

In nearby Independence, River Gallery has been a destination for art lovers since 1998, particularly in January when their locally famous “Wild Women” juried show is on display. In the historic town of Silverton, Lunaria Gallery is renowned for its fine art, excellent crafts and friendly atmosphere. 

The Wallow Gallery, in Carlton, combines physical art with virtual reality tours of the artists’ studio. The gallery also offers weekly art classes, movie nights and other events for children and families. In Newberg, the Chehalem Cultural Center celebrates art, community, education and heritage. The historic building houses a fine arts gallery, exhibition hall, state-of-the-art clay studio and recording studio.

Take a self-guided tour through downtown McMinnville at the monthly Art and Wine Walk. Visit more than 15 boutiques, wineries and galleries as you browse art exhibits, speak with artists, taste wine and enjoy live performances.

For more ideas of what to see and do in the Mid-Willamette Valley, visit Travel Salem or Travel Yamhill Valley.