Juliene Popinga, Visitor Services Manager at the Oregon State Capitol, demonstrates newly installed giant touch screens that allows visitors to do a virtual tour of Oregon tourist attractions and points of interest, and an interactive map of the Capitol building for self guided tours. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)
Visitors to the Oregon State Capitol can learn about Portland’s historic Fogelbo House, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians or the history of Latino Oregonians with the tap of a finger.
The Capitol Welcome Center is a small room in the capitol building across from the gift shop with three touch screens on the walls that give an interactive look into Oregon’s history and cultural communities.
Juliene Popinga, visitor services manager for the Capitol, said the welcome center is an extension of the murals painted in the Capitol rotunda in the 1930s.
“Those people that decided to build the building at that time thought that those were the most important moments in time,” Popinga said. “We wanted to show other cultural communities within the building.”
One screen shows interactive maps for two people with dots representing 170 heritage sites across the state. Popinga said they plan on adding more heritage sites in the future to the maps, which provide descriptions of the sites with contact, website and fee information.
“It’s really a snapshot of the heritage site. We are not telling the stories, we’re just giving information about, if you’re going to go to Eastern Oregon, these are some places that you can go,” Popinga said.
Popinga demonstrates newly installed giant touch screens that allows visitors to do a virtual tour of Oregon tourist attractions and points of interest, and an interactive map of the Capitol building for self guided tours. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)
Another screen is dedicated to Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes with information about the tribes, QR codes with links to their websites and videos for some.
The local history of Japanese Oregonians, Jewish Oregonians and 13 other ethnic and religious communities can be found on a third screen, as well as events and museums throughout the state.
“When I was going through this one in particular, there’s a lot of different cultural events within Oregon,” Popinga said.
Before the pandemic, Popinga said the Capitol hosted a heritage or special event once a month on a Saturday with anywhere between 400 and 1,500 people in a four-hour period, but events have been virtual the past two years.
“We don’t have a lot of other information about different cultures in the building, and many, many different people come to the Capitol,” Popinga said. “Our goal is to help people become more involved in the democratic process.”
A fourth screen helps visitors find their way around the building and previews upcoming events at the Capitol, such as the Oregon State Constitution Virtual Exhibit Feb. 1-12 and Oregon’s birthday celebration and anniversary of statehood Feb. 12. Both will be held online.
All screens are available in English and Spanish.
The center opened in July. Popinga said a ribbon-cutting ceremony won’t happen until after construction at the Capitol is complete. It’s scheduled to be done by fall, but when they hold the ceremony will depend on the state of the pandemic, she said.
The welcome center is funded by the Oregon State Capitol Foundation through the Capitol History Gateway project.The foundation sets up exhibits, tours, presentations and other programs for people visiting the Capitol, according to its website.
When Oregonians buy Pacific Wonderland license plates, half the revenue goes to the Oregon Historical Society, and the other half goes to the state capitol foundation to fund projects like the welcome center, Popinga said.
Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.
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