August 26, 2013

Interview with Portland’s Museum Lady, Carye Bye

by: Taz Loomans

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Artist Carye Bye, or the Museum Lady as she’s known to many, has an indomitable curiosity. So she began Hidden Portland for the Curious, a platform to share all the hidden curiosities of Portland, which are all over the place Carye will tell you. As part of Hidden Portland for the Curious, Carye leads a variety of walking and bicycle tours around the city. Check out Hidden Portland’s For the Curious’s Facebook Page.

This Friday, August 30, she’s leading a “City Treasures” tour with Know Your City. It will begin at 10am at Director Park and will end at 12:30pm. You can sign up at by navigating through their calendar. General admission is $18. Youth, seniors, students and members of Know Your City get $3 discount. Walk-ups are admitted, though it’s best to call ahead at 503-248-4454.

Find out more about Hidden Portland for the Curious, Carye’s tours, the Bathtub Art Museum and her new publication in my interview with Carye below!

Blooming Rock: Tell me a little about Hidden Portland for the Curious.

Carye Bye: Hidden Portland to me is about hidden discoveries, memorable stories, visual clues to this city and its people–currently and where past meets present. Museums, public art, temporary art or performance, nature and parks and all the city’s inhabitants– people and wildlife–all interest me.

Blooming Rock: Tell me a little about yourself, and how you got interested in creating Hidden Portland.

carye-bye_tourCarye Bye: I’m curious person by nature. I also tend to immerse myself in the place I live. I’m highly visual, and love to wander and explore and tend to collect information and a pictorial archive in my head. I’m a professional artist at my studio, Red Bat Press, and again and again Portland has been my muse. I also love museums and even curate my own, the Bathtub Art Museum. So my artistic obsessions and interests tend to build on each other overtime. And more and more I’ve opened up my artistic endeavors to include performance art. My alter-ego is “the Museum Lady” and under that guise and Hidden Portland, I lead tours by bicycle and foot and write and illustrate guidebooks.

Blooming Rock: What do you like to cover on your tours?

Carye Bye: Museums are my expertise, but I can create tours on many themes that include public art and parks, historical narratives about a specific place, and a goal to play, have fun and lose a little of our adult inhibitions as we learn about the landscape.

Blooming Rock: What will the tour on Friday be about?

Carye Bye: My City Treasures walking tour is all about exploring the idea that “the City is a Museum”. There are clues to our past ideas and ideals, our present, and sometimes our future in all the features of the city: the street, our buildings, art, and people. The tour encourages participation and play and we walk in and out of buildings and park spaces making discoveries. We also visit some of my favorite City Treasures.

The walking tour is hosted through Know Your City (KYC), a local nonprofit that connects people through place. The tour has been part of their reoccurring expert-led  tour series. KYC also offers lectures, special tours, events, and publications.

I have two more “City Treasures” tours scheduled this year– Friday August 30 and Sept 27, and then I’m taking a break from the calendar perhaps to curate a new tour for next year. However I always offer this tour or a variation of, or custom tour by request for any group of six or more. I’ve led walking tours to a traveling group of art-appreciation seniors and for a close-knit nonprofit team.

2013_museumsguideBlooming Rock: Tell me about the museum book.

Carye Bye: I’ve just self published the 2013:Hidden Portland Museums & Collections guide. It includes write ups for 40 Portland Museums and the Museum Lady Challenge. It’s $5 and available online at or at local stores/museums such as Crafty Wonderland, The Faux Museum, Green Bean Books, Museum of Contemporary Craft, and Land Gallery.

The guide is an update following its predecessor, the 2009/10 illustrated version which is out of print but available at the library. Search for it my (author) name.

Blooming Rock: What do you love most about giving these tours?

Carye Bye: I love connecting with and meeting other curious people. I learn so much about Portland through other people’s eyes. I also love to share my finds.

Blooming Rock: What do you want people to leave with after the tour?

Carye Bye: I hope people will continue to be curious and explore Portland or any other city or space. Life is more interesting when you keep your eyes or other senses wide open and allow yourself a little everyday magic and fun.

Photo Credit: All photos courtesy of Carye Bye

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