The Glenn Starlin Native Plant Courtyard is a living research collection of Oregon’s native plants.
Identification signs and interpretive booklets provide information on many of the 120 species of plants found in the garden. The plants, artwork, geological specimens, and even the museum building provide visitors an opportunity to learn about the people, geology, and flora native to Oregon.
The design of the building was inspired by Northwest Coast longhouses and executed by Ratcliffe architects, Berkeley, CA. The Museum of Natural and Cultural History has been housed in this facility since 1987.
Oregon artist, Wayne Chabre, created the beautiful hammered copper sculptures that adorn the entrance and porticoes of the museum. The salmon, eagle, raven, bear, and wolf gracing the museum's porticoes each embody character traits important to traditional Pacific Northwest cultures. Another bronze sculpture found in the courtyard is Spring Run, by Oregon artist Mack Holman. Spring Run represents a Native American woman from the Pacific Northwest processing salmon in the early twentieth century.
The horseshoe-shaped path around the courtyard is a walkable timeline where visitors can encounter more than four billion years of earth history. Inlaid tiles, representing the fossil record, are arranged to show the relative length of each time period in the evolutionary history of our planet and the biological evolution of life on earth.
Just outside the museum are three interesting pieces of Oregon’s geologic history:
- A large granite boulder transported from Montana to the Willamette Valley during the catastrophic Missoula floods at the end of the last ice age
- A replica of the Willamette meteorite, the largest meteorite found in North America
- A 26-million year old piece of petrified wood
The courtyard was named after Glenn Starlin, UO professor emeritus of theater arts, former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and longtime supporter of cultural institutions, including the two museums on the UO campus. Like a gardener, Starlin watched over, worked for, and defended programs that promoted informal education and campus-community relations. It is fitting that the University’s memorial to him is a garden. The Glenn Starlin Courtyard was named and dedicated in 1990 by long-time friend and MNCH advocate Bill Bowerman.