“Imagine a World” Frank Buffalo Hyde artwork

Envisioned utopias, both past and future, were the focus of High Desert Museum’s recent “Imagine a World” exhibition, which ran through Sept. 25. Visitors were inspired to speculate on their vision of an idyllic society while exploring past intentional communities ranging from Arizona’s Biosphere 2 to Oregon’s Rajneeshpuram.

Supported by a grant award from the Oregon Cultural Trust, the High Desert Museum opened “Imagine a World” in January. The Cultural Trust funding helped spur risk-taking and supported operational work behind the scenes, says Museum Executive Director Dana Whitelaw.

The exhibition’s aim is to encourage audiences to examine how intentional communities of the past might inform communities in the future. Among the many questions “Imagine a World” asks is how might communities of tomorrow grapple with today’s challenges?

The communities on display all had a unique connection to place, Whitelaw explains, because the communities’ followers perceived the desert as a “landscape of possibility.”

The High Desert Museum is celebrating 40 years of sharing the stories, cultures and arts of the High Desert, which ranges across the Intermountain West. It’s located in Bend.

Story by Chloe Mills.