Museum's move back to PCC Rock Creek applauded
It still boggles the mind how fast the time has gone for the staff over here at the Washington County Museum. At the end of this summer, WCM's Board of Directors decided to leave our Hillsboro Civic Center facility and consolidate all operations back to Portland Community College's Rock Creek Campus.
After the initial surprise wore off, our staff realized what a great thing it was going to be for the future. We can all be together as a team again. We can focus on educating the community more, participating in outside events, exhibits, presentations and other opportunities that were not possible while running two locations. Transportation of sensitive artifacts is no longer necessary either, as our storage and gallery are now in the same place.
Our Education Director, Nathanael Andreini, says: "As a museum, I think our goal should be to bridge history, stories and artifacts with living people, places and ideas. Creating programs, events and opportunities that reflect this bridge for the benefit of the living community at-large is what we're after." Our Education Department continued to apply for grants and present mobile museums throughout the entire move as well.
In the beginning of September, our Executive Director Pam Vorachek guided us through the plans for the move and what the tasks were for each staff member. We recruited all kinds of volunteers, from our regular college students and retirees to an inmate crew from the Washington County Jail. All the exhibit deconstruction and packing of education and office supplies was finished in about two weeks. Then we did two big truck moves with Rose City Movers between Sept. 25 and Oct. 7.
Once we had everything back at Rock Creek, some of our staff continued cleaning out the Hillsboro facility, including removing entire walls and sheetrock, taking down track lighting, deconstructing temporary walls, moving office furniture and so much more. While they did that, I had only 10 days to install the gallery space at Rock Creek, which of course I absolutely could never have done without the amazing help of all my volunteers and Deputy [Jerry] Shamoon's inmate crew from the county jail.
"Our gallery exhibits are pleasures to see," said WCM Administrative Assistant Irene Reskin. "There is no way you would guess that Liza and her crew installed them in two weeks, but this team never uses the word 'impossible'!"
We had to downsize our exhibits a little bit, but I really tried to include as many panels and informative pieces as possible. For example, we did not have enough space in our front gallery to display our 1959 Oregon centennial wagon. However, we will be re-erecting it in our large artifact storage, next to our Ritchey family farm wagon. In the near future we will offer tours, which will allow visitors to see both wagons, along with our amazing backroom storage.
Plus, visitors will once again be able to enjoy the 1853 old county log jail. It felt great to showcase it again for our recent Halloween-themed "After Dark" event.
We have received a very nice response since opening up on Oct. 19 and holding two events. The museum will now be open free to visitors every Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., plus every second Saturday for free Family Day, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. We sincerely hope you will come to see us soon.
Liza J. Schade is curator of the Washington County Museum.