This Museum Is A Gem Nestled in the Scenic Beauty of The Gorge

Maryhill Museum of Art, washington museums, oregon, history, culture, native american art, columbia river gorge, sam hill
Image via The Author

As the golden rays of dawn kiss the Columbia River Gorge, there lies a treasure tucked into Washington State’s undulating landscapes: the Maryhill Museum of Art. This majestic edifice doesn't just serve as a repository for art; it's a testament to the vision of its founder, Samuel Hill, and his remarkable network of friends. Only a brief jaunt across the river from Oregon, this is a journey well worth taking.

This is part two of our trifecta of articles on the Maryhill area. Part one is Maryhill Winery. Stick around for part three on the Maryhill Stonehenge.

Maryhill Museum of Art, washington museums, oregon, history, culture, native american art, columbia river gorge, sam hill
Adrianne Paule Langit

Drawing together influences from Native American art, the sculpting prowess of Rodin, treasures of the Romanian, Russian, and British royal families, and many other mesmerizing collections, Maryhill Museum offers a blend of history, culture, and artistic masterpieces.

The Chronicles of Samuel Hill and His Esteemed Friends

The history of the Maryhill Museum is interwoven with tales of friendship, passion, and a commitment to culture. Samuel Hill, a famous Oregon entrepreneur with a dream, was deeply embedded in the world of arts and society. His vision for Maryhill was influenced by a trio of luminaries— Loïe Fuller, the revolutionary dancer; Queen Marie of Romania, the iconic royal; and Alma de Brettevile Spreckels, the philanthropist and art patron.

Maryhill Museum of Art, washington museums, oregon, history, culture, native american art, columbia river gorge, sam hill
Maryhill Museum under construction. Courtesy Oreg. Hist. Soc. Research Library, Maryhill Museum, ba0122370

It was the luminescent dance waves of Loïe Fuller, who dazzled Parisian audiences, that initially bonded her with Hill. Together, they nurtured a dream of establishing a theatre along the Columbia River. Although that dream never materialized, it planted the seed for Maryhill Museum.

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Further strengthening this vision was Queen Marie of Romania, whose friendship with Hill led her to dedicate the museum in 1926. This regal touch gave Maryhill a distinctive European flair. The bond between Alma de Brettevile Spreckels and Hill further enriched the museum, adding to its diverse art collection.

Maryhill Museum of Art, washington museums, oregon, history, culture, native american art, columbia river gorge, sam hill
Queen Marie and Sam Hill, 1926. Courtesy Oreg. Hist. Soc. Research Library, OrHi63563

A Glimpse into the Timeless World of Native American Art

The museum's halls echo with the stories of centuries, most profoundly evident in its remarkable collection of Native American art. This collection delves deep into the heritage of the indigenous tribes of North America. From intricate basketry of the early 19th century to the beaded garments that whispered tales of tribal ceremonies, the artifacts unveil a world of traditions, beliefs, and the harmony of man with nature.

Maryhill Museum of Art, washington museums, oregon, history, culture, native american art, columbia river gorge, sam hill
William Faust (Bill)

Every piece tells a story, showcasing the skills, stories, and spirits of tribes within the Plateau, Plains, and Southwest Native Americans. It's an immersive experience, allowing visitors to grasp the richness of a culture that predates modern America.

Rodin's Sculptures: Stone Breathing Life

Auguste Rodin, a name synonymous with masterful sculpting, finds his creations adorning the Maryhill Museum, thanks to the contributions of Alma de Brettevile Spreckels. Gazing upon the intricate forms, one can sense the raw emotions etched into the very stone. From the passionate "The Kiss" to the contemplative "The Thinker," Rodin’s sculptures challenge our perceptions, invoking deep introspection.

Maryhill Museum of Art, washington museums, oregon, history, culture, native american art, columbia river gorge, sam hill
Image via The Author

It's a testament to Rodin's genius that amidst the myriad art forms at Maryhill, his works invariably draw a crowd, captivated by the sheer detail and emotional depth. Bonus: You don't even have to travel to Paris to see it.

Beyond Rodin: The Museum’s Cornucopia of Collections

While Rodin and Native American art are standout features, Maryhill boasts a range of other collections that make it a versatile repository of art. The museum's Orthodox icons, painted on wood in rich hues, serve as windows into Byzantine culture. Meanwhile, the Theatre de la Mode mannequins, with their haute couture, transport visitors to post-war Paris, capturing a poignant moment in fashion history.

Maryhill Museum of Art, washington museums, oregon, history, culture, native american art, columbia river gorge, sam hill
Tzar Nicholas II of Russia greets visitors upon entry. Image via The Author

Every turn, every corner of Maryhill offers a journey across continents and eras, making it a true microcosm of global art.

In the Heart of Maryhill: An Artistic Pilgrimage

Maryhill Museum of Art, washington museums, oregon, history, culture, native american art, columbia river gorge, sam hill
Maryhill Museum of Art

Situated in a region steeped in culture, the Maryhill Museum complements the broader artistic landscape. As the second in our series on the Maryhill area, it's evident how art and culture permeate the very soil. Whether it’s the sumptuous wines of the Maryhill Winery or the ethereal Maryhill Stonehenge, the region beckons with its unique blend of nature, history, and artistic prowess.

Maryhill Museum of Art, washington museums, oregon, history, culture, native american art, columbia river gorge, sam hill
Image via The Author

In Conclusion

The Maryhill Museum of Art is more than just a museum; it's a historical tapestry that melds diverse art forms, echoing tales of friendships that transcended borders. Nestled amidst the scenic beauty of Washington State, it invites all to partake in its rich legacy. When in the Pacific Northwest, a visit to Maryhill isn't just recommended; it’s essential.


Where is Maryhill Museum Located?

Address: 35 Maryhill Museum Dr, Goldendale, WA 98620

Phone: 509-773-3733

Hours: Daily, 10am-5pm

Web: maryhillmuseum.org