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The first exhibit at Portland's Museum of Contemporary Craft includes this chair by Peter Shire.

Forget the museum-as-fortress, a place guarded by steep admission fees and tiny windows to keep the hoi polloi from peeking in. When the Museum of Contemporary Craft reopens at a new locale in downtown Portland on July 22, it will welcome its neighbors with an open-invitation block party, free admission, and street-level windows facing the North Park blocks. The windows are huge, offering passersby views of the glass, ceramics, jewelry, and handmade furniture on display.

The democratic approach is nothing new for this museum. It began life in 1937 as the Oregon Ceramic Studio, far from downtown on SW Corbett Avenue in a smallish 7,500-square-foot brick building. Now, it’s moving into a revamped auto dealership that has twice as much space.

The first exhibit at the new address, Craft in America: Expanding Traditions, runs until September 23 and includes such pieces as a chair by Peter Shire (above) and a ceramic pot by Peter Voulkos. (503) 223-2654, www.contemporarycrafts.org.

Photography by Doug Hill courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art

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This article was first published in July 2007. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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