Portland, Seattle Improve Off-Site Venues

Several unique and popular meeting venues in the Pacific Northwest region, including both Portland's and Seattle's art museums, are expanding their meeting facilities.

The Portland Art Museum is restoring and expanding its historical North Building. The 141,000-square-foot building will house the Center for Modern and Contemporary Art, two ballrooms and a library.

Upon completion in October 2006, the entire North Building will be available to rent for events.

Not to be outdone, the Seattle Art Museum is expanding by a huge 300,000 square feet, featuring a new gallery, restaurant and additional meeting space. The facility also is building an 8.5-acre Olympic Sculpture Park in downtown Seattle, with a glass and steel pavilion that can be utilized for meetings and events.

The Sculpture Park will be complete by 2006, with the expansion of Seattle's museum to debut in 2007.

Meanwhile, in June, Portland's World Forestry Center celebrated the grand opening of its new Discovery Museum, with interactive exhibits that allow guests to parachute into a simulated wild fire, drive through a safari exhibit in a Jeep, and take a ride through a forest exhibit in a Chinese boat.

The whole 20,000-square-foot facility can be rented for an event, with access to all of the interactive exhibits.

Finally, the Oregon Historical Society's main building, which occupies a full city block in downtown Portland, recently underwent a redesign of its largest meeting space.

The James Miller Pavilion, with floor-to-ceiling windows facing the historical South Park blocks of the city, can accommodate up to 350 people reception-style.