Donald M. Kerr, a native of Portland, founded The High Desert Museum out of a passion for natural history that began when he raised a wolf cub for his high school biology class. This experience inspired his lifelong interest in environmental issues and the lives of predatory animals. Out of the belief that we can make well-informed decisions if we understand all sides of an issue, he envisioned a new kind of museum that would show the close connections between people and their environment.
”I've raised a wolf and two great horned owls,” Kerr said. ”I've been lucky to have these experiences that aren't possible for most people. I wanted to bring others closer to nature, to experience it, to learn to maintain it.”
Kerr's dream became a reality through the creation of the Western Natural History Institute in 1974, and its evolution into The Oregon High Desert Museum, which opened in Bend in 1982. To give it a greater regional role, the name became The High Desert Museum. Today, the Museum remains true to his guiding principle that education and experience are the basis for thoughtful decisions.
With the opening of ”Raptors of the Desert Sky,” The High Desert Museum concludes an important chapter in its growth, and prepares for a third decade of service.Photo courtesy of the High Desert Museum.
Raptors, also known as birds of prey, have been a part of the Museum since its earliest days. But the new 7,500 square foot Donald M. Kerr Birds of Prey Center offers visitors the rare opportunity to see live birds of prey up close and personal in six naturalistic habitats. The ”Raptors of the Desert Sky” exhibit gives an intimate view into the lives of the winged hunters that soar above the High Desert and what they mean to us.